The BET Awards were established in 2001 by the Black Entertainment Television network to celebrate African Americans and other minorities in music, acting, sports and other fields of entertainment over the past year.
The awards are presented annually, and they are broadcast live on BET.
BET commissioned Artist/Sculptor and Hip Hop culture icon Carlos Mare139 Rodriguez to design the Award sculpture.
The BET Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian Award recipients, along with the nominees for other categories are announced in a press conference. At the awards ceremony a mini-documentary is shown covering the honorees' life. The awards are given out separately.
The BET Lifetime Achievement Award is given a veteran artist or group who has made notable contributions to the music industry. The honoree is paid tribute to by current popular singers who perform the honoree's most recognized songs. The honoree will usually perform themselves after being paid tribute.
In 2002, at the second annual BET Awards, the category for the BET Award Humanitarian Award was created. The Humanitarian Award is given to a celebrity philanthropist who donates their time and money to a charitable cause.