Hawk Newsome, who describes himself as a leader of the Black Lives Matter movement, has dogged both Democrats and Republicans during this election cycle to pay more attention to issues relevant to African Americans. In a statement, Newsome reflected that black Americans have been loyal to the Democratic party since the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and especially since President Lyndon Johnson’s implementation of the 1964 Voting Rights Act. That year, Johnson received 94% of the black vote.
 
Loyalty to the Democrats, contends Newsome, meant that the black community something in exchange. One example is President Harry Truman’s desegregation of the armed forces. “We fought to have our right to vote. We had our Freedom Fighters. We had our sit-ins. We had our marches. We had our peaceful protests. Now, it’s time for our vote to truly mean something.” said Newsome. To that end, Newsome has created a campaign he calls “#IAintVoting Until #BlackLivesMatter.”
 
He said, “It is critical that black people learn to use their votes in a way that will help advance their community. We fail to utilize our vote to its fullest potential.” Recognizing that his perspective is not popular within the African American community, he says it tracks with the point of view of radicals such as Malcolm X and W.E.B. DuBois. The tactic he advocates is abstention from participating in the election. “African Americans should abstain from voting until Black Lives Matter. White America deserves Trump. Maybe, they need to know what it’s like to have people responsible for their safety and well-being operating with a reckless indifference about their lives.”
 
 
Contending that failing to vote shows no disrespect to his ancestors, Newsome said, “We are disrespecting them more by participating in a two-party election process that does not serve our community. We need to take back the true power of our vote and create movements that will hold them accountable to our demands.”
 
“Who in the race for President has stepped up front and center to say Black Lives Matter? Hillary Clinton just recently used the new trending, buzzword ‘systemic racism’ during her nomination acceptance speech at the DNC. Yet, just in February, she quickly had a Black Lives Matter activist escorted from a private fundraiser when the activist told Clinton that she was not a ‘superpredator’ and demanded an apology to the black community for mass incarceration.”
 
Criticizing Hillary Clinton for her support of President Bill Clinton’s Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act in 1994, Newsome said, “Not only do we seek criminal justice reform as a priority, but we are actively seeking ways we can get better representation of black people in state, local, and national elections. It all starts with regaining control of our vote.”
 
He said furthermore, “If you have a candidate that you can solidly say has your community’s best interest at the forefront at the state and local level, then by all means—VOTE. Otherwise, African Americans should not be throwing their votes away on candidates that bring a track record of nothingness to our community.”
 
Newsome pointed out that Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza dropped a bombshell on Hillary Clinton during the first week of August. Garza said in a Bloomberg interview that Bill and Hillary Clinton merely “use black people for votes.” Garza said, “Early on, [Hillary] would say, ‘Yes, black lives matter,’ but she wouldn’t acknowledge her role in processes that fundamentally showed black lives did not matter.”  In response, Newsome said, “If you find yourself in the voting booth in November, do not vote for the ‘lesser of two evils.’ Write ‘I Ain’t Voting’ on the ballot for president and in any other spot on the ballot that your community has not been represented.”
 
Newsome said, “Black Americans have a chance right now collectively to say to the Democrats: ‘Hey, if you don’t give us criminal justice reform, we’ll vie the country to Donald Trump.’ That’ll send the Democrats into a frenzy. Black lives will matter then, I guarantee you.”
 
Newsome is planning to tour key swing states, having already led a protest outside the Republican National Convention last month.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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