MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It's a dramatic shift from tradition. African American voters encouraging other minority voters to leave the Democratic party.
They're calling it "BLEXIT" as in black exit.
"BLEXIT" founder Candace Owens coined the name for the movement two years ago but it really started taking off last fall.
The movement has had events in major cities and tonight there is talk of having a "BLEXIT" rally in Memphis in the future.
It's a new political movement
"It's imperative that young people stand up and tell the democratic party that they can no longer bully black community into getting our votes anymore," said a young voter in a Twitter video.
Some African American voters are calling for a political shift - an exit of black voters known as "BLEXIT."
"When you look at our nation, there is a "BLEXIT" happening where blacks are waking up and realizing they don't have to live their lives like this," said a BLEXIT member in a Twitter video.
The "BLEXIT" movement gained traction on social media last fall and the group held it's first rally in California in January and now the group is ramping up for the 2020 election.
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"Where we are right now is in the midst of an ideological war. We are - it's an ideological war," said "BLEXIT" founder Candace Owens. "How are you going to contribute?"
FOX13 talked with "BLEXIT" founder Candace Owens in person, and she said the movement isn't about politics, it's about voting for values
"We never tell people what to think, we challenge them to think," said Owens. "This should really be a demand from the black community to both parties to stay that you need to compete on better ideas, not higher emotion. And right now, we're really seeing an emotion debate when people say vote for this person because the other guy is racist. Tell me what your principals are, tell me what you stand on, tell me what your ideas are, tell me what you're putting forth and maybe I will vote for you."
During the 2016 election, almost 90 percent of African American voters supported democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and 8 percent voted for now-President Donald Trump.
"There's a very strong correlation between African American identity and the tendency to vote along democratic party lines. This has been the unbroken tradition for a very long time at least since the civil rights movement and doesn't seem likely to change any time soon," said Steven Mulroy, University of Memphis law professor.
Neither the Shelby County nor Tennessee Election Commissions track voters based on race and political party.
But the Shelby County Democratic Party believes a majority of African American voters here are Democrats.
"When it comes to presenting better ideas, let's just be clear, the "BLEXIT" platform does not present better ideas," said Shelby County Democratic Party Chairman Michael Harris.
Harris said "BLEXIT" should be taken seriously and believes the movement is building a brand based on lies.
"I consider misinformation to be a matter of major concern and I think that's what they're engaging in. They're using facts with no historical context, and they're using it to make a statement about the democratic party that's not true," said Harris.
In a statement to FOX13, Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden said:
Political experts say it's still too early to know if the "BLEXIT" movement is having an impact in Memphis or anywhere else.
Mulroy said the first real test will be the results from Super Tuesday in March 2020.
"If African American and LatinX voters started to leave the Democratic party in significant numbers. Even if they didn't cross over and vote republican. Even if they just stayed home or voted for a third-party candidates, that of course could throw the election, right? So anything which hurts the Democrats is going to help the republicans," said Mulroy.
The next "BLEXIT rally is November 10 in Atlanta.
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