(NEXSTAR) – The 25th season of ABC’s “The Bachelor” premieres Monday night at 8 p.m. ET.
This season will be different than the 24 that came before it – for the first time, ABC has cast a Black man as the bachelor.
Twenty-eight-year-old Matt James is a real estate broker from North Carolina, who previously appeared on Season 16 of “The Bachelorette.” He also played football at Wake Forest University and briefly played in the NFL.
The show has been widely criticized for its lack of the diversity, and tonight’s premiere will signal a sea change for the 18-year-old television program.
“The franchise, and all those who represent it, should reflect and honor the racial diversity of our country – both in front of and behind the camera,” the petition reads.
In 2012, two Black men filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that ABC was intentionally excluding people of color from leading the show after they both applied to be “The Bachelor” in 2011.
The suit was later dismissed.