UPDATE: The forum is now complete, but those who missed it may scroll down to watch the archived video. A Fusion poll shows Bernie Sanders winning the forum with 82 percent of the vote.
At 7 p.m. CST on Monday evening, the three Democratic candidates for president will take the stage at Drake University’s Sheslow Auditorium to discuss issues foremost on the minds of American minorities. But this year will be a little different. In previous years, all three took the stage in a debate format, but since the Democratic National Committee has limited debates, each candidate will speak separately.
Although a predominantly white state, Iowa’s minority populations are growing. The black population stands at approximately 100,000 but is expected to grow to 187,000 by 2040. The Hispanic population is projected to be even higher, reaching 450,000 by 2050.
The Des Moines Register reports that the Brown & Black Presidential Forum is especially important in lieu of recent events involving minorities and police shootings.
Izaah Knox, a recruiter for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, is also an associate executive director of Urban Dreams social service agency. Knox is looking for specific topics from each candidate at the Brown & Black Forum.
“The kids I work with now, it’s not that they can’t succeed, it’s that they don’t have the opportunity to succeed. They don’t even know these opportunities exist.”
The Brown & Black Presidential Forum is just one element of Urban Dreams’ non-partisan V.O.T.E. (Voting Opportunities Through Education).
According to the Brown & Black Presidential Forum website, this event is the nation’s oldest and only presidential forum where all Democratic candidates address concerns specific to blacks and Latinos.
Fusion anchors Jorge Ramos and Alicia Menendez will moderate, along with New York Magazine writer-at-large Rembert Browne and Fusion contributor Akilah Hughes. Fusion’s aim is to attract a large, diverse audience of multicultural voters to watch the forum. Ramos gained notoriety for confronting Donald Trump in August at Trump’s press conference for his inflammatory remarks about immigration.
Ramos will be at least one of the moderators who will press the candidates for clear answers to tough questions. After being thrown out of Trump’s press conference, Ramos hit back hard.
“This is the kind of thing that you see in dictatorships, but not in the United States of America.”
Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley will all participate, but Sanders is one of the most highly anticipated participants. Bernie has experienced a recent surge in the polls, and CNN is reporting that Clinton and Sanders are virtually tied in Iowa. While Hillary Clinton reportedly has 48 percent, Bernie Sanders is closing the gap quickly with 45 percent. In New Hampshire, Sanders has surged ahead at 50 percent to Clinton’s 46 percent.
For Bernie Sanders supporters, the Brown & Black Forum could help push their candidate into front-runner status, as gaining the minority vote is especially important in this primary season.
— The Root (@TheRoot) January 11, 2016
Although O’Malley is far behind both Bernie Sanders and Clinton, he may be able to snag more votes as a result of the Brown & Black Forum. But it’s not likely to make much difference. While the three candidates appear to be similar, they really aren’t. Hillary is perhaps the most right-leaning of the three. She has a history of flip-flopping on major issues when it is beneficial for her. O’Malley’s history as mayor of Baltimore is peppered with race-related issues that could ultimately undermine his chances. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, has been consistently progressive on race issues since the 1960s.
Last year was an incredibly difficult one for minorities, especially for black Americans. In August, Vice News reported that in the year since Michael Brown’s death in August 2014, police had killed 1087 people, many of them minorities.
“While the bulk of those killed from August 2014 to August 2015 were white, black people per population were more than twice as likely to be killed by cops than any other race, the data showed. African Americans are also more than three times as likely to be killed by police than white people, according to the statistics.”
Refinery 29 spoke with the two young women who will moderate the Brown & Black Forum on a variety of issues. Both women agreed that the event represents a portion of the population that is largely ignored. They both also hope to see the candidates address issues head-on.
Akilah Hughes expressed a sense of frustration many voters today feel about establishment candidates.
“A lot of [the candidates] have these canned responses where they…dance around the issues or go for the least controversial response, but I think this is a group and set of moderators that isn’t going to let up until the response is an actual answer.”
Hughes was also hopeful that the Brown & Black Forum participants won’t pander or use condescending language when referring to minority voters.
“…I would definitely say that, in general, people of color are tired of being spoken for when they’re not being spoken to.
“It’s important that the candidates can address the fact that their life experience is not everyone’s. But they need to feel the responsibility to be speaking in intersectional and broader terms. When you talk about the American dream, who’s scheming that dream?”
Watch Sanders, Clinton, and O’Malley at the Brown & Black Presidential Forum live streamed here at 7p.m. CST/5 p.m. PST.
[Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty]