For first time, ABC casts black male lead for 'The Bachelor'

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A big announcement from Bachelor Nation on Friday: For the first time in the show's 18-year history, ABC has cast a black male lead.

It's a big step forward for a show that's been criticized for its lack of diversity. A recent petition received nearly 85,000 signatures, calling for change on the show.

Now, the show is attempting to turn the page, announcing that at long last, a black man will lead the franchise, having selected 28-year old Matt James.

James was originally cast as a suitor on "The Bachelorette" Clare Crawley's current season.

The president of ABC Entertainment promised this is just the beginning, stating: "We know we have a responsibility to make sure the love stories we're seeing onscreen are representative of the world we live in … we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise. We feel so privileged to have Matt as our first black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him."