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BET founder urges BLM to form its own independent political party

America Protests Seattle
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Robert Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, says that Black Americans should form their own political party to concentrate their electoral influence.
This after a claim that Democrats get a cut of all money donated to Black Lives Matter.

It’s a claim that has gone viral on social media. The claim has not been verified.

The Instagram post claims “donations to Black Lives Matter website go directly to the DNC” and that blacklivesmatter.com “appears to be an international money laundering program used by the Democratic National Committee.”

Meanwhile, BET’s Johnson, who has previously called on the U.S. government to provide reparations for slavery, said the independent political party would stand for things “principally focused on the interests” of Black Americans.

Last week, Johnson sent a letter to “Black Lives Matter Leaders and Supporters,” suggesting 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.” He described the Congressional Black Caucus’ founding principle as Blacks having “no permanent friends, no permanent enemies … just permanent interests.’”

Johnson’s idea comes as waves of protests against racism and police brutality continue in cities across the U.S. following the killing last month of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by a White Minneapolis police officer, who has since been fired.

Black Americans already possess clear political influence, Johnson said, citing their lower turnout in the 2016 presidential election compared with elections in 2008 and 2012 as one reason why Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump. Still, Clinton received 89% of the Black vote while Trump received 8%, according to CNN exit polls.

Johnson also referred to the overwhelming support from Black voters for Joe Biden in his victory in the South Carolina’s Democratic primary, which reignited his stumbling campaign and help make him the presumptive nominee.

But Biden’s suggestion in May that “you ain’t Black” if you vote for Trump instead of him demonstrates that Black voters are too often taken for granted, Johnson said. Biden later apologized for the remark, saying “I shouldn’t have been so cavalier.”

“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 became the first Black billionaire in the U.S. when he sold BET to Viacom in 2001. He’s no longer on the Forbes billionaires list.

Johnson has been a large Democratic donor over the years but also has spoken positively about Trump’s work on the U.S. economy. He said in 2016 that he turned down a position in Trump’s Cabinet, not over politics but because he said he could not deal with government red tape.

He adds that 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.