Robert Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), is urging Black Americans to form their own political party to specifically address black issues. In a letter to “Black Lives Matter Leaders and Supporters,” Johnson said “the party could 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.’”
The 74-year-old media mogul’s comments come on the back of a series of protests against racial injustice and police brutality that have engulfed the U.S. following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.
“Had African American interests been embraced by one or two of the dominant parties, we wouldn’t have the tremendous social, economic, racial issues that we have now,” Johnson was quoted by CNBC.
The philanthropist, who recently called on the U.S. to pay $14 trillion in slavery reparations, believes Black Americans have a major political influence as their failure to vote in the 2008 and 2012 elections contributed to Hillary Clinton’s defeat to Donald Trump.
That same black support was also given to Joe Biden, said Johnson, who recently praised Trump for his work on the U.S. economy.
Biden suggested in May that “you ain’t Black” if you vote for Trump instead of him. He later apologized.
“That someone could be so presumptuousness, that you have to vote for a Democrat or otherwise you’re not identified as Black, that is the principal reason why we need a Black party, independent, to change that kind of behavior,” said Johnson, who has been a Democratic donor for years.
Here’s a copy of the letter Johnson wrote to Black Lives Matter on June 17:
TO: Black Lives Matter Leaders and Supporters
FROM: Bob Johnson, Founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) and The RLJ Companies
DATE: June 17, 2020
RE: The Formation of An Independent Black Political Party
I am writing to you with a suggestion that Black Lives Matter (BLM) consider establishing a formal independent political party. The party could 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.” The effort to create an independent Black party, created specifically to address Black issues, is not a new idea among Black people. There are many people, both Black and white who believe that independent parties can make a significant contribution to the current political system as to how this nation of 300 million diverse citizens can be governed in the best interest of all Americans. Many pundits will try to convince you that it is impossible for independent parties to exist in this country. They will argue that the American people seem to be satisfied with just two choices. To the contrary, I believe a politically astute and structured Black independent party, committed and engaged in the electoral process, can prove them wrong.
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. BLM is endowed with the hope and confidence of youth, fortified with the knowledge of what is wrong and what must be made right, and has the courage to challenge power, no matter what the risk. The purpose of this memo is to encourage you to harness these forces and think about what you have ignited and how it can and should, through the political process, cause America to truly live up to its belief in American exceptionalism and its promise of the American Dream for all.