On the heels of nearly six months of nationwide demonstrations that sparked an international movement against systemic racism and police violence, Black Lives Matter is expanding its influence into politics by forming a political action committee — a highly unusual move for a grassroots organizing group with no central leadership.
The Black Lives Matter PAC will formally roll out its programs as early as Monday, according to Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter. The committee plans to endorse a slate of candidates ahead of the general election, paying special attention to mayoral, county sheriff and district attorney races.
“We want to be able to not just speak in ‘get out the vote’ language,” Cullors said in an interview with POLITICO. “Black Lives Matter is launching our PAC so we can talk directly to voters about who we think that they should be voting for and what we think they should be voting on.”
The PAC’s formation is the latest in a wave of political efforts from social justice organizations ahead of the November election. In late September the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of more than 50 organizing groups nationwide, launched The Frontline initiative to turn out the vote among young people of color. Black Lives Matter has also spearheaded four separate projects aiming to encourage young Black voters to head to the polls, including a multi-million-dollar outreach campaign and anti-disinformation initiative.
Movement leaders, too, are laying the groundwork for a national policy overhaul that meets the demands for change born out of the summer of protests. On Thursday the Working Families Party announced its 2021 legislative proposal in partnership with Black Lives Matter leaders and progressive organizing groups. The platform has the support of several progressive lawmakers, including Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Cullors said that Black Lives Matter’s political action committee gives the movement an opportunity to hold elected officials accountable on their turf. The group will continue to push for policy change, Cullors said, and now, with the PAC, the organization can wield greater influence from the inside. She said Stacey Abrams’ 2018 Georgia gubernatorial loss is one example of why movement work is an important component of electoral politics. The goal of the PAC is to put more candidates who align with Black Lives Matter’s goals in office.
“We see this as something that we are going to be pushing for [during] other elections. We have this national election now but we [will] have midterm elections,” she said.
“It’s a long time in the making and this is the right time to launch it.”
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