Real Estate & Hospitality

BET and Bethesda-based RLJ Founder Says Black Lives Matter (BLM) Should Become A Political Party

MBS Staff
Robert Louis Johnson

image: Robert Louis Johnson. The RLJ companies

Robert Louis Johnson, Founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) and Bethesda-based The RLJ Companies has issued a memo suggesting that activist group Black Lives Matter (BLM) should take the formal steps in establishing itself as an independent political party.

In the letter, Johnson said BLM should follow in the footsteps of the Congressional Black Caucus when it was founded in 1971, upholding the principles "Black people have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies.…just permanent interests."

Johnson argued that it is contrary to common belief that Americans are satisfied with the two political party system and that a structured Black focused and independent party would be a welcome change.

BET was started by Johnson as his answer to address the lack of Black programming on TV and cable. It made history by being the first Black-owned TV network on the U.S. Stock Exchange. The network was established and headquartered in Washington, D.C. and was independent until the purchase of the company by Viacom in 2000. The company had its offices in the Brentwood neighborhood until 2017 when it was moved to New York.

After Johnson left BET he started Bethesda-based The RLJ companies, a conglomerate that includes one of the largest Lodging Real Estate Investment Trusts in the country as well as an entertainment arm called RLJ Entertainment which includes ACORN TV. That company has offices in Silver Spring but is now a subsidiary of AMC Networks.

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