DNC: Black Lives Matter Can Have Town Hall, But Not Debate

The Democratic National Committee has agreed to host a presidential town hall devoted to issues of racial inequality, according to letters obtained by the Washington Post on Wednesday.

DNC Chief Executive Officer Amy K. Dacey wrote to leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement and to racial justice activist DeRay Mckesson saying that the DNC “would be happy” to promote an event that will “address racism in America.”

This announcement came one day after Black Lives Matter organizers posted a petition on Color of Change asking DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) to add more presidential debates to the six that are currently scheduled—and to devote one exclusively to racial justice.

In her letters, Dacey affirmed that the DNC has no intention of adding more official debates to the calendar.

Activists’ response to the announcement appeared to be split.

While Mckesson told the Washington Post he was looking into the possibility of organizing a town hall meeting, Black Lives Matter organizer Elle Hearns said she was disappointed by the DNC’s decision.

“Their response to our request is unsatisfactory,” Hearns told the Post’s Wesley Lowrey.

Black Lives Matter activists have criticized Democratic candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and Hillary Clinton for paying insufficient attention to issues like mass incarceration and systemic inequality. In their petition, which gained almost 10,000 signatures since it was posted Tuesday morning, they wrote that black voters “deserve substantive responses and policy recommendations” on these topics.

The town hall format has been offered as a platform to other liberal groups, including MoveOn.org.

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