CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A new movement called "Blexit" is encouraging black voters in Charlotte and across the nation to exit the Democratic Party and think outside of the box politically.
Pierre Wilson is the North Carolina State Field Director of Blexit, which launched this fall.
"I always tell people that Republican, to me, is the party, but conservative is your values. I vote my values," Wilson said.
He's a 30-year-old single father who moved to Charlotte from Maryland.
"I grew up a Democrat. My mom, dad, grandparents -- everyone's Democrats in my family," he told Channel 9.
However, Wilson deviated from that tradition, becoming the local leader of the BLEXIT movement. He said a speech delivered last year by Blexit founder Candace Owens challenged him to question the black community's continued support of the Democratic Party.
State numbers show North Carolina has more than 1.4 million black voters and the vast majority of them -- about 80% -- are registered Democrats. About 18% are unaffiliated and only 2.3% of them are registered Republicans.
"Why aren't we further along?" said Wilson. "Why are our kids still failing in schools? The Democrats have had control of our community for years."
Julia Robinson Moore, an associate professor at UNC Charlotte, said the Republican Party was once more popular in the black community.
"African Americans primarily voted Republican because it was the Radical Republicans that put the 14th and 13th amendments in play," she said.
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Moore said that began to change in the 1930s after President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented programs to help black Americans struggling under segregation and the Great Depression.
"President Roosevelt began to usher in policies and procedures to help African Americans survive that moment," Moore said.
However, she said today's tech savvy and educated millennials are analyzing history and present-day policies.
"So, they're understanding that there are still all of these economic, social, political inequities, and they're asking what are both of these parties doing," Moore told Channel 9.
Wilson said his research led him to leave the Democratic party. He now supports President Donald Trump.
"I didn't originally like President Trump," Wilson said. "I didn't vote for him originally."
He and other Blexit supporters from Charlotte and North Carolina attended a black leadership conference this fall and visited the White House. Some said criminal justice reform is just one reason they now support the GOP.
"Lower black unemployment rate, poverty rate," said Bryson Gray another Blexit member. "More people working than ever -- this is common sense."
It is an alarming stance to some young black leaders on the left who question the Blexit movement.
"I think it aligns with Trump, and some of the things he has said have aligned with white supremacy, xenophobia, and then also the GOP party itself has been silent when it comes to his ideas," said Allison Allen, president of the Young Democrats of Mecklenburg County.
Wilson sees things differently.
"I'm looking at all these things and I'm thinking, 'If he's a racist, he's doing a horrible job at being a racist. He's doing terrible,'" said Wilson.
He said the most discrimination he has seen is from those who oppose his political position.
"I've been called every name in the book: coon, Uncle Tom. Some stuff I probably can't say on camera," Wilson said. "But one thing no one can call me is insane because the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Which is, to me, voting Democrat and being black."
Blexit plans to be active in next year's RNC in Charlotte.
The organization will also bus people interested in the movement from Charlotte to an event in Atlanta in November.
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