Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is working to set the record straight regarding the candidate’s strong history of support for racial justice issues. The changes come following an incident last Saturday, when Black Lives Matter activists interrupted Sanders and prevented him from speaking at an event in Seattle.
Later that day, the Bernie Sanders campaign announced that Symone Sanders would serve as its newly appointed national press secretary, The Huffington Post reported. The young African-American organizer and criminal justice advocate (who is of no relation to the senator) graduated from Omaha’s Creighton University in 2013.
She introduced the presidential contender publicly for the first time Saturday evening when he spoke to an estimated 12,000 people who attended a campaign rally at Seattle’s Washington University. The following evening, at a rally Sunday night in Portland, she instructed the full capacity crowd of 19,980 people to respond with chants of “We stand together,” if the rally happened to be interrupted, according to CNN.
Although the Sunday night rally in Portland was not interrupted by protesters, the message remained in line with Sanders’ promise to run a positive campaign, which he discussed at length during a news conference in Washington last April, Bloomberg reported.
“I’ve never run a negative ad in my life. I believe that in a democracy, what elections are about are serious debates over serious issues.”
Adding an African American press secretary to the campaign’s staff was the first of several moves following Saturday’s protest that seemed to underscore the senator’s commitment to fighting racial inequality. Other initiatives designed to reach out to the African American community include adding a new section dedicated to Racial Injustice to the Bernie Sanders website under the Issues tab on Sunday. This update came along with a promise from Sanders’ camp to roll out a more detailed plan covering racial issues soon, CNN reported.
According to Symone Sanders, the one critical component to winning support from African Americans will be letting people know “who Bernie Sanders is.”
“It’s not just about, ‘I fought for civil rights and I protested and I sat at the lunch counters.’ That is important and that is great, but that was 50 years ago. And he has a lot more to stand on than what he did 50 years ago.”
Last Thursday, Bernie Sanders joined Martin Luther King III at the MLK Memorial in Washington to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, the Washington Post reported. At the event, both the senator and King acknowledged that the U.S. has made great progress in attempts to safeguard disenfranchised voters, but also criticized the Supreme Court for striking down the law’s Section 4(b), which helped regulate which state and local jurisdictions are required to clear any changes to their voting laws with the U.S. Justice Department.
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