Robert Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, told CNBC on Tuesday that African Americans should form their own political party to focus their electoral influence.
“I have long been convinced that 40 million African-Americans who tend to vote en bloc in one of the two parties limit their influence to get action from both parties,” Johnson, 74, said in “Squawk on the street. ”
Johnson, who previously asked the United States government to provide reparations for slavery, said the independent political party would represent things “primarily focused on the interests” of American blacks.
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 build on the principle articulated by the founding members of Congress. Black Caucus in 1971. “He described the founding principle of the Black Caucus of Congress as blacks who” have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies … only permanent interests. “
Johnson’s idea comes as waves of protests against racism and police brutality continue in cities across the United States following the murder last month of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by a White Minneapolis police officer, who since then he has been fired.
“If African American interests had been embraced by one or two of the dominant parties, we would not have the tremendous social, economic, and racial problems that we have now,” Johnson said. He said that forming a new party would send a message that Democrats should not take the African American vote for granted and that Republicans should not ignore issues important to blacks.
Johnson, founder and chairman of investment firm The RLJ Cos., Said he does not believe the new party will be formed and that it will present candidates in time for the November election, but hopes that talks on its establishment will begin this year.
Black Americans already have a clear political influence, Johnson said, citing their lower turnout in the 2016 presidential election compared to the 2008 and 2012 elections as one of the reasons 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 of black voters for Joe Biden in his victory in the South Carolina Democratic primary, which revived his shaky campaign and made him the alleged candidate.
But Biden’s suggestion in May that “you are not black” if you vote for Trump instead of him shows that black voters too often are taken for granted, Johnson said. Biden then apologized for the comment and said, “He shouldn’t have been so arrogant.”
“That someone could be so presumptuous, that you have to vote for a Democrat or you’re not identified as black, that’s the main reason we need an independent black party to change that kind of behavior,” Johnson said. , who became the first black billionaire in the United States when he sold BET to Viacom in 2001. He is no longer on Forbes’ list of billionaires.
Johnson has been a great Democratic donor over the years, but has also spoken positively about Trump’s work in the U.S. economy. He said in 2016 that he turned down a position in Trump’s cabinet, not on politics but because he said he couldn’t deal with the government bureaucracy.
On Tuesday, Johnson also commented on his call earlier this month on CNBC for $ 14 billion in slavery reparations. He said in “Squawk on the Street” that the question Americans should ask themselves about reparations is: “Why shouldn’t we do this?”
“As a business person, I understand how wealth flows. The wealth from reparations is a reward for the wealth that comes from slavery,” said Johnson, claiming that the wealth created by slave labor has multiplied for generations without people. that never generated it. receiving compensation. “The reparations are simply a way of transferring what was stolen from slavery to African Americans through Jim Crow, segregation and racism.”
Here is a copy of the letter Johnson sent to Black Lives Matter on June 17:
TO: Black Lives Matter Leaders and Followers
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 and independent political party. The party could be founded on the principle articulated by the founding members of the Black Caucus Congress in 1971. That formative principle said: “Blacks have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies … only permanent interests.” The effort to create an independent black party, created specifically to address black issues, is not a new idea among blacks. There are many people, both white and black, 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 experts will try to convince you that it is impossible for there to be independent parties in this country. They will argue that the American people appear to be satisfied with only two options. On the contrary, I believe that a cunning and structured political black party, committed and committed in the electoral process, can demonstrate that it is wrong.
I am confident in this statement because BLM, in a way not seen from the civil rights movement, effectively mobilized and passionately motivated blacks and whites to unite and support their just fight against racial and economic injustice, particularly in the matter of murder. unjustified by black police. Its cause has triggered a determined reaction that demands change, heard not only in the United States, but throughout the world.
Black Lives Matter, by establishing an independent political party can become a force dedicated to promoting the permanent interests of 40 million African Americans in this country. BLM is endowed with the hope and confidence of youth, empowered with the knowledge of what is wrong and what must be corrected, and has the courage to challenge power, regardless of risk. The purpose of this memo is to encourage you to harness these forces and think about what you have ignited and how you can and should, through the political process, truly bring the United States up to its belief in American exceptionalism and its promise to The American Dream for everyone.