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BET founder: It's time for Black Lives Matter to create a political party; Democrats are 'terrified'


Tired of black voters being taken for granted

Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage for BET Network

After presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden declared black voters "ain't black" if they don't vote for him, BET founder Robert Johnson slammed the former vice president and said he should "spend the rest of his campaign apologizing to every black person he meets."

Now Johnson has taken his fed-upness to another level: He wants the Black Lives Matter movement to create its own political party in order to wield greater electoral influence for the black community.

What did he say about a BLM party?

Asked why a black independent party is needed, Johnson told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" that the 40 million black Americans who tend to vote as a bloc for the Democratic Party "limit their leverage in getting action from both parties."

Johnson told CNBC that he wants an independent party that is not "an appendage of one party or ignored by the other party" and that uses leverage to push for the interests of blacks.

"Had African American interests been fully embraced by one or two of the dominant parties, we wouldn't have the tremendous social, economic, racial issues that we have now," he continued.

Johnson said he sees the new party being effective especially at the local and state levels — not to mention its potential impact on the Electoral College. He noted that low black voter turnout in battleground states cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 election, then added that because blacks vote as a bloc, they can impact the balance of power.

According to Johnson, the Democratic Party is "terrified of the notion that black folks might either vote a protest vote at the top of the ticket or decide to sit this out." Democrats' fears were exemplified by "the most amazing thing" Johnson said he'd ever heard a white Democrat say when Biden made his "ain't black" comment.

"That is a horrendous statement, but it also reflects the need for a black independent party," he said. "That someone can be so presumptuous that you have to vote for a Democrat or otherwise you are not identified as black."

In a letter to "Black Lives Matter Leaders and Supporters" on June 17, Johnson urged BLM to "consider establishing a formal independent political party" that would "be founded on the principle articulated by the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971. That formative principle stated, 'Black people have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies ... just permanent interests.'"

Johnson said he believes "independent parties can make a significant contribution to the current political system" and that pundits who pooh-pooh the idea are wrong to believe Americans are satisfied with the two major parties.

"I believe a politically astute and structured Black independent party, committed and engaged in the electoral process, can prove them wrong," Johnson wrote.

For Johnson, now is the time to "harness" the movement the nation has seen in the streets the past few weeks following the death of George Floyd:

I am confident in this assertion because BLM has, in a manner not seen since the civil rights movement, effectively mobilized and passionately motivated people, Black and white, to join in and support your righteous fight against racial and economic injustice, particularly on the matter of unjustified police killing of Black people. Your cause has triggered a determined reaction calling for change, heard not only in America, but around the world.

Black Lives Matter, by establishing an independent political party, can become a force dedicated to advancing the permanent interests of 40 million Black Americans in this country.
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