BET founder Robert Johnson told CNBC on Tuesday that he believes Black History Month should focus more on what it takes to provide equal economic opportunity in the years ahead.
“I’m suggesting that we start calling February … ‘Black History, Black Futures,'” Johnson said in an interview on “Squawk Box.” “Let black Americans talk about what they want to achieve in the future for their country and their families. And let white Americans talk about what they are prepared to do and what they are willing to do or what they are doing, to do. brighter future for African Americans. “
While all U.S. Presidents since Gerald Ford in 1976 have officially recognized February as Black History Month, its origins date back decades before 1915 and the formation of the Association for the Study of Life and History. African American.
Every president of the United States since Gerald Ford in 1976 has officially recognized February as Black History Month. However, according to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the origins of African American History Month date back to 1915. It was then that ASALH was founded by historian Carter G. Woodson, who nine years later designated a week in February explicitly focused on the study of black history. In 1976, after continued and growing interest, ASALH worked to expand it to a full month focused on Black History, according to its website. Woodson, the son of former slaves, has become known as the father of black history.
Johnson said that the need to study and acknowledge the history of blacks remains vitally important to all Americans. But Johnson said he believes more emphasis should be placed on “black futures.”
“Don’t deny the story, but it’s better to know where you’re going than where you’ve been,” said Johnson, who founded Black Entertainment Television in 1980. He became America’s first black billionaire in 2001 when the BET holding company was sold. . to Viacom.
“We have told the story over and over of the achievements of blacks against all odds,” added Johnson. “Now we must start talking about what blacks could contribute to this country if they had a future as bright economically as the future for white Americans.”
Johnson has previously asked the US government to issue $ 14 trillion in reparations for slavery as a way to help narrow the racial wealth gap in the country. He made the remarks on CNBC in June, when protests against racial inequality and police brutality swept across the nation following the murder of George Floyd Minneapolis.
“The transfer of wealth is what is needed,” Johnson said at the time, arguing why repairs are needed. “Think about this. For more than 200 years of slavery, work done without compensation is a transfer of wealth. Denial of access to education, which is the main driver of accumulation of income and wealth, is a transfer of wealth. wealth. “
President Joe Biden has repeatedly emphasized that his administration wants to reduce racial inequality. According to a Federal Reserve study published in September, white families had a median wealth of $ 188,200, while it was $ 24,100 for black families and $ 36,100 for Hispanic families.
Johnson suggested Tuesday that to advance his goal, Biden should prioritize programs that direct capital to help foster black entrepreneurship.
“Black companies tend to hire black people as a whole, so more black companies are created, the recovery goes to more black jobs,” Johnson said. “More Black jobs mean more Blacks paying to be homeowners, Blacks … saving for retirement, Blacks investing. In the end, we take a giant step toward closing the huge wealth gap.”
Watch Tuesday’s full interview with Robert Johnson below: