Bernie Sanders: 'Racism Is Alive And Well In America'

Ramiz Parchment

In his most apparent attempt to reach out to black voters, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke at the Southern Christian Leadership's 57th annual conference. Despite Sanders' surge in many primary polls, the Vermont Senator has struggled to find similar momentum among minority voters.

While Sanders is just 19 percent behind Hillary Clinton among Caucasian democrats, the 73-year-old lags behind the front runner by 55 percent in African-American polls. To win the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders must convince minority voters that he can represent and amend significant issues concerning their communities.

Just last week, along with fellow Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley, Bernie Sanders was jeered by Black Lives Matter activists at a liberal conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The confrontation ended with O'Malley stating all life mattered, to which he was eventually booed and criticized for being insensitive to the protest movement. The former Governor of Maryland has since apologized for the comment.

Bernie Sanders is no stranger to the civil rights movement. Sanders was a prominent local activist while attending the University of Chicago, and had been arrested while protesting for civil liberties in the 1960s. Now, he finds himself addressing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a group that was first headed by Martin Luther King.

With the tragic story of Sandra Bland still in the headlines, Senator Bernie Sanders spoke of how the tale unfortunately represents the racism still evident in the United States. "Anybody who saw the recent Sandra Bland tape understands that tragically, racism is alive and well in America," he said.

"I don't think anybody believes that a middle-class white woman would have been yanked out of her car, thrown on the ground, assaulted and then ended up jail because she made a minor traffic violation."

"We have to end institutional racism, but we have to deal with the reality that 50% of young black kids are unemployed, that we have massive poverty in America, that we have an unsustainable level of income and wealth inequality," he said on NBC's Meet the Press.

His message is one that has resonated with many that were previously unfamiliar with the socalist. Now more than ever, Bernie Sanders is directly appealing to group unfamiliar to his history and message.

[Photo by Win McNamee / Getty Images]