The BET Awards Sunday featured a glaring error in an otherwise powerful “In Memoriam” segment Sunday night. Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was included in the list of notable African American deaths over the past year.
A picture of smiling politician William Lewis Brown Jr., 86, who is very much alive, was placed between Oscar-nominated and pioneering actress Diahann Carroll and “Lean on Me” soul singer Bill Withers in the segment.
Brown served in California’s State Assembly for 30 years, including 15 as Democratic speaker, before serving as the first African America mayor of San Francisco.
The error was immediately called out on Twitter. Brown told the San Francisco Chronicle that he received a flood of calls from family and friends checking in on him.
“I couldn’t figure out why the phone was all lit up,” Brown, who did not watch the awards program, said. One call came from his niece who told Brown, “If you’re going to die, you’re supposed to tell me.”
Brown said he received a call from a BET executive who “profusely apologized” for the error.
“I also said, ‘Whatever you do, please don’t fire anybody,'” said Brown.
Show producers likely wanted to honor Raiders football Hall of Fame legend Willie Brown, who died in October at 78 after 16 seasons in the NFL.
USA TODAY has reached out to the show’s producers for comment.
NBC News reported that the error was corrected for the replay immediately following the original broadcast.
The BET Awards “In Memoriam” segment was bookended by two powerful performances. Wayne Brady paid tribute to rock and roll legend Little Richard and rapper Lil Wayne performed a vocal tribute to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.