Jul 27, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Black Lives Matter founder says DNC platform needs to be bolder

Patrisse Cullors speaks at an awards ceremony

Cullors speaks at an awards ceremony in Los Angeles in 2019. Photo: Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for NILC

The Black Lives Matter movement co-founder called on Democrats Monday to make "sea changes" to their party platform to more boldly address police brutality and racial injustice, just three weeks before the summer convention starts.

Why it matters: There's growing internal pressure on the DNC and Joe Biden from Democratic activists who want them to enact bold policies and transform the Democratic Party into a political force that they feel meets the political moment.

  • Over 300 delegates (most of whom support Sen. Bernie Sanders) have signed a pledge to reject the 2020 party platform if it doesn't endorse "Medicare for All," per Politico.

Driving the news: Patrisse Cullors, BLM co-founder and activist, spoke at the DNC's virtual party platform meeting today with a searing message about the Democrats' agenda, based on Rep. John Lewis' original "March on Washington" speech.

  • "Without the sea changes our movement recommended for the 2020 Democratic platform, any claims to allyship and solidarity with our work to fight for Black liberation are for naught," she said.
  • In a call after her remarks, Cullors told Axios she had proposed "about 10" amendments spanning criminal justice, reforms to the legal system, policing, education, the environment and reparations. All of her amendments were rejected without a vote.
  • "Without making the necessary recommitments and revisions, can any of you here truly stand up and say, 'My party is the party of principles?” she asked her fellow platform committee members at the virtual event.

Between the lines: In addition to the other amendments proposed, Cullors was advocating for the BREATHE Act, which includes defunding the police — something Biden and several other Democrats in Congress don't support.

  • Yes, but: Cullors and other activists are playing the long game. "Even if we get Trump out in November we will still be having this same conversation about police violence with Biden in office," she told Axios.
  • She added that the Movement for Black Lives policy team met with folks from Biden's campaign earlier this month to discuss the BREATHE Act.
  • "I’m calling the Democratic Party to the table — not casting them to the side. A unified party is one that will listen to the people on the streets," Cullors said.

The big picture: The convention is supposed to be a unifying event for the party where Democrats from all factions come together to support the presidential nominee.

  • The division between Sanders and Hillary Clinton was on clear display at the 2016 convention in Philadelphia, when Sanders' supporters booed at the mention of Clinton's name and staged sit-ins during some of the programming.
  • Each presidential election, DNC members and delegates vote on the party platform at the summer convention.

Go deeper: How Elizabeth Warren is shaping Biden's policies

Go deeper