While some activists are frustrated with being denied a presidential debate, others are enthusiastic about the town hall’s more flexible (and possibly more fruitful) format to address America’s racial injustice.
Blacks Lives Matter (BLM) activists are now deliberating whether they will accept an offer from the Democratic National Committee to host a presidential town hall meeting with candidates in the 2016 elections. This is following the DNC’s statement that they would not be providing Black Lives Matter with its own debate featuring presidential candidates.
In the letter obtained by the Washington Post, Amy K. Dacey, the chief executive officer of the DNC wrote:
We believe that your organization would be an ideal host for a presidential candidate forum — where all of the Democratic candidates can showcase their ideas and policy positions that will expand opportunity for all, strengthen the middle class and address racism in America…The DNC would be happy to help promote the event.
The day prior to Dacey’s notice, activists in the BLM network had contacted the DNC requesting a debate mandated to address racial injustice in light of the ongoing, recent cases of police brutality that have caught media attention and their resultant Black Liberation Movement. Activists were motivated to call for an additional debate after the topic of racial politics was only brought up once during the Democrats’ presidential debate in Las Vegas in early October.
Ellie Hearns, an organizer for BLM spoke to the Washington Post, saying:
“Their response to our request is unsatisfactory…Debbie Wasserman Schultz should be more mindful of her responsibility not only to the DNC, but to the American people.”
DeRay Mckesson, one of the most prominent activists in the movement who was also directly addressed in the DNC’s letter, has said that he is speaking with DNC authorities, authorities from the Republican National Committee and Twitter to possibly coordinate the town hall meeting. In his letter to the DNC from the beginning of the week, Mckesson wrote:
“The issues of police violence, state violence, mass incarceration, and the impact of systematic inequity have been at the forefront of these conversations and they should also be centered during the 2016 Presidential Campaign…We have an opportunity to create space for a robust and transformational conversation about a set of issues that are key to millions of voters.”
Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, has excitedly spoken out about the possibility of Twitter co-hosting the town hall and the importance of BLM’s engagement on the micro-blogging platform.
“Twitter stands for speaking truth to power, and we see this every single day around the world,” Dorsey commented while speaking at the ‘Flight’ conference in San Francisco yesterday. “Most recently, with the community and hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.”
McKesson stressed that the BLM network is interested in gathering politicians from all affiliations to move the conversation forward. Some of Mckesson’s colleagues in the movement are frustrated that they were denied a presidential debate while others are enthusiastic about the prospect of a town hall, as its more flexible format may prove more fruitful for the needs and goals of the movement. Simultaneously, candidates (particularly Democrats) have made it a primary concern in their campaigns to make sure they are in good standing with BLM.
Brittney Packett of Campaign Zero, an organizing group that is informally connected with BLM is in support of the town hall meeting.
“[W]e need every single possible strategy at our disposal in order to see real change,” Packnett commented to the Post. “So I think we have an opportunity to be creative here in how we engage presidential candidates in the same way that our movement has been creative in how we have protested and created peaceful but necessary disruption around the country.”
[SOURCE: The Washington Post]
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