By: Tadi Abedje
Robert L. Johnson wants a check not only for financial purposes, but also as an apology for over 400 years of racism, slavery and Jim Crow. He has been a strong advocate for reparations going back to 2019.
Johnson, 75, is no stranger to success, as he founded BET in 1980 after serving as the vice president of government relations at the National Cable and Television Station. He became the first African American to own a stake in an NBA team (Charlotte Bobcats) and has his own management asset firm called The RLJ Companies. Additionally, USA Today named Johnson as one of the 25 Most Influential Business Leaders of the Past 25 Years, according to his website.
This is coming at a time when the country is going through a racial reckoning as a result of the worldwide protests due to the death of George Floyd.
“Now is the time to go big. Short answers too long, horrific questions about the stain of slavery are not going to solve the inequality problem. We need to focus on wealth creation and wealth generation and to do that, we must bring the descendants of slaves into equality with this nation,” Johnson said in an interview with CNBC TV last year. “That’s what I propose in this $14 trillion proposal to provide reparations to cause America to live up to the concept and that notion that this nation was born on the idea of American exceptionalism,” he said.
If his big reparations proposal goes through, he’s convinced that it can solve the problems of today.