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The last laugh: How Byron Allen won

Byron Allen discusses ownership, equity and access to education, economic inclusion, equal justice and environment protection for Black and POCs.

The last laugh: How Byron Allen won
Photo courtesy of PR Newswire 

Already torn is Byron Allen. The party is just starting to jive to remixed versions of vintage funk and soul since the night is still young. The charismatic 61-year-old is in Washington, D.C., on the edge of the evening’s red carpet (beige in this case), intoning about “Black excellence” and “Black ownership” to the press mob gathered in front of him. He is wearing a sparkling black tux and has his head shaved. But every few minutes, another esteemed guest from the media, entertainment, or political realms shows up, and Allen, the event’s host, excuses himself. He immediately makes a beeline for a fist bump and photo opportunity with Pete Buttigieg, Susan Rice, who advises U.S. President Joe Biden on domestic policy, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and others.

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner, an annual indulgence where Washington, D.C., officials and the journalists who cover them renounce any pretence of objectivity and openly delight in their codependence, is taking place this evening. Allen hosts this after-party at the National Museum of African American History and Culture as part of his ongoing empire-building strategy. He has been a well-known figure for years, initially as a budding comic and, more recently, as a powerful media mogul. Allen is the owner of the Weather Channel, other 24-hour cable channels, local TV stations, streaming networks, and more than 60 syndicated TV shows. In addition, he formed Entertainment Studios in Century City, a multibillion-dollar firm that creates his material. Although Allen still lacks the profile of a Michael Bloomberg or Donald Newhouse, people are at last taking him seriously.

“I’m a 61-year-old overnight sensation,” he says with a laugh. “People just didn’t notice.”

He is here in Washington to promote his products while also making a statement. TheGrio, a Black audience-focused news and culture website and digital TV channel Allen purchased in 2016, was the focus of the after-party. (Longtime White House correspondent April Ryan is tonight’s special guest. Allen snatched her away from American Urban Radio Networks to oversee TheGrio’s coverage in Washington). But the event is a show of force by Allen on behalf of Black businesspeople.

“Until we have a real seat at the table—with ownership, equity, access to a real education, economic inclusion, equal justice, environmental protection—we can’t achieve one America,” he said in an interview with LAmag, as his party rages around him. “You can’t achieve one America unless you come to Washington, D.C., and you get politicians to understand: ‘You are nothing more than temporary hired help.’”

Source: LAmag