By Jessi Mitchell

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As part of BET‘s first-ever Soul Train Awards weekend, the 2021 event kicks off with the Leading With Soul luncheon, honoring Black leadership away from the stage.

“We are excited to honor powerhouse leaders advancing their businesses and communities by following their purpose and soul at our inaugural Leading with Soul Luncheon,” said Kimberly Paige, EVP & chief marketing officer at BET. “BET continues to use its many platforms and reach to spotlight Black excellence. It is fitting to kick off our Soul Train Awards weekend in celebration of executives at the forefront, doing the work that ignites positive change in our community.”

READ MORE: SEE IT: Explosion Rocks Home, Sparks Fire Overnight In Cypress Hills; 6 People Hurt

The Leading With Soul honorees include Esi Egleston Bracy, who leads the personal care portfolio for Unilever North America. Bracey utilized her position to help pass The Crown Act into law.

Twin sisters Cheryl and Deryl McKissack will receive recognition for their success in taking over their family business, McKissack & McKissack, America’s oldest women and minority-owned professional design and construction firm.

Jonelle Procope, president and CEO of the Apollo Theater, is being recognized for helping to engineer the restoration of the venue and its purpose in the Harlem community. Also among the luncheon honorees is Louis Carr, a BET sales leader who created the Blueprint Summit conference for Black men.

The three-day weekend will also celebrate the 50th Anniversary of “Soul Train,” with the award show taping for the first time ever at the Apollo Theater.

The excitement hits the streets on Friday and Saturday. Be on the lookout for the Soul Bus – not train – traveling the streets of Harlem, Brooklyn, and Queens, which will deliver prizes and experiences via the Soul Train 50th Anniversary Prize Wheel featuring BET and Soul Train Awards swag, the famous Soul Train Scramble Board, plus gift cards to Black-owned restaurants.

READ MORE: NYC Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter Stepping Down

“BET is proud to support the communities we serve and looks forward to providing grass-roots experiences beyond the screen that highlight the best in Black culture,” said BET President Scott Mills. “Our partnerships with leading sponsors, community organizations, and talent are all a testament to our ongoing commitment to the Black community.”

On Sunday, Nov. 21, to cap off the weekend, join in to help break the Guinness World Record for the longest Soul Train line, happening in Harlem. To sign up, CLICK HERE.

“We look forward to embracing our audience with a warm ‘hug’ after more than a year of elevated health, financial and mental disparities,” said Staci Hallmon, general manager, BET L!VE. “We can’t wait to kick off our first-ever ‘Soul Train Awards’ Weekend experience with on-the-ground events specially designed to celebrate the annual tentpole event and the resiliency of NYC.”

For more information on the 2021 Soul Train Awards weekend, CLICK HERE. Join the conversation on social media by using and following the hashtags #SoulTrainAwards and #soultrainweekend.

All in-person events are free of charge.

MORE NEWS: CNN's Chris Cuomo Suspended Indefinitely Over Extent Of Help To His Brother During Scandal

BET is a subsidiary of ViacomCBS.

Jessi Mitchell