Black Lives Matter-Affiliated Groups Get Approval to Hold Democratic Town Hall

By Sameer Rao Oct 23, 2015

The Black Lives Matter Network and Campaign Zero—two organizations most clearly tied to the political advocacy side of the Black Lives Matter movement—might be holding a town hall for Democratic presidential candidates.

Letters addressed from the Democratic National Committee to Campaign Zero co-founder DeRay Mckesson and BLM Network leaders (obtained by the The Washington Post on Wednesday) confirm that the organizations received party approval to hold a future DNC-endorsed town hall that will focus on racial justice. The town hall would be, in effect, similar to ones held by state-level political groups, as well as nationally-reaching liberal entities like 

The event, if they choose to host it, would come on the heels of BLM Network members advocating for a presidential debate focusing on racial justice. Although the DNC did not want to add another debate to the current debate calendar, they did approve a town hall: 

"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," wrote Amy K. Dacey, chief executive officer of the DNC, in the letters which were obtained by The Post. "The DNC would be happy to help promote the event."

The Republican National Committee released a statement yesterday noting the finalization of their own debate schedule for Republican presidential candidates, which also supports (though not at the level of the DNC, it seems) the town hall:

"We continue to encourage our candidates to speak with all voters when given the opportunity," said Orlando Watson, a spokesman for the RNC. "This presidential candidate forum, like Senator Tim Scott’s town halls, is such an opportunity."

One organizer, Elle Hearns, expressed dissatisfaction that there wouldn’t be an official debate: 

"Their response to our request is unsatisfactory," Hearns said, and added that it is irresponsible for the Democratic National Committee to host so few debates. "Debbie Wasserman Schultz should be more mindful of her responsibility not only to the DNC, but to the American people."

(H/t MSNBC, The Washington Post