Election 2016

'We Are Pushing Real Revolution': Black Lives Matter on Why They Don't Have Faith in Any Candidate

Although Black Lives Matter activists have helped make racial injustice and police brutality key issues in the 2016 presidential campaign, the group has decided not to endorse a presidential candidate.

Photo Credit: Rena Schild/Shutterstock

Democracy Now! speaks with Black Lives Matter organizer Melina Abdullah. "We’re not telling people not to vote, we’re simply not endorsing any presidential candidate," Abdullah says. "We’re pushing the real revolution. We know that the revolution won’t come at the ballot box." Professor Melina Abdullah is one of the founding members of the Black Lives Matter movement. In this interview for Democracy Now! she details the group's reasons for not endorsing a specific candidate.
 
Watch: Democracy Now! interview with Melina Abdullah. Full transcript below.
 
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Melina Abdullah, you are—you are one of the founding members of the Black Lives Matter movement. The movement has decided not to endorse any presidential candidate. Why not?
 
MELINA ABDULLAH: So I think there’s three reasons why we’re not endorsing any candidate. The first is that neither Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton have a strong command of the particular issues related to race in the specificity of black oppression. Neither have been willing to really invest the time or energy to develop plans that really get black folks free. So, we don’t have a whole lot of faith in either of the Democratic candidates. And absolutely, we don’t have any faith in Donald Trump, or Drumpf or whoever he is. So, it’s the candidates.
 
But then the second thing is the confines of the two-party system. We recognize that both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are controlled by monied interests. And as much as Bernie Sanders and, to a lesser degree, Hillary Clinton have kind of pushed back against that idea that they’re controlled by money, and Bernie Sanders has kind of identified with socialism, still we know that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are built to entrench themselves. So no matter what the candidates attempt to do, being controlled by the two-party system is hugely problematic and is disempowering and oppressive to black people.
 
And then the third reason is, when we think about what democracy is, democracy being rule by the people, we need to really kind of redefine what that means and break away from this notion that the only way of being democratic is engaging in electoral politics. And we’re not telling people not to vote, we’re simply not endorsing any presidential candidate, recognizing that where we want to put our time and energy is in the development of people to act in their own interests and on their own behalf. And so, we are pushing the real revolution. We know that the revolution won’t come at the ballot box and the revolution won’t be televised. The revolution will be on the ground, when the people rise up and demand something better, something more imaginative and something more visionary.
 
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Melina Abdullah, Dr. Cornel West and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, we’re going break, come back to this debate. And at the end of the broadcast, we’ll go to Washington to speak with a reporter who covered the secret Sea Island meeting. That’s the Georgia meeting of high-tech CEOs like the head of Google, like the head of Apple, Karl Rove and others, as well as the publisher of The New York Times, gathering together to talk about how Trump can be stopped.

 

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