Black Lives Matter activist Ja’Mal Green, a Bernie Sanders surrogate, says Sanders didn’t go after the Black vote hard enough.
Green recently tweeted: “Our kids lives depends on each and every one of you to help make our fight become policy. I won’t ever stop fighting for you… someone I don’t know. Not me, us.”
Based on the 2020 primaries, the 23-year-old Chicago native, who ran for mayor of Chicago in 2018, seems to be right.
Take South Carolina, for example. Despite having campaign co-chairwoman Nina Turner, who is Black, trying to lure in the Black vote, Sanders lost the valuable voting bloc to Joe Biden. In a state where two-thirds of the primary electorate is Black, former vice president Biden didn’t just win South Carolina “He swept every county and nabbed nearly half of all votes cast,” Mother Jones reported.
Still, Sanders did try to capture the Black vote with initiatives such as a plan to support HBCUs.
“Today, the need for HBCUs and the education they provide has never been greater,” Sen. Sanders said.
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Sanders proposes a multibillion-dollar plan to make private and public HBCUs tuition-free, Essence reported. He also said, if elected he would sign an executive order to eradicate systemic racism impairing HBCUs, cancel public loan debt held by HBCUs, and target funding to address disparities in health care, education, and agriculture affecting Black people and other marginalized communities.
Under the plan, if elected, Sanders said he will dedicate $5 billion to expand teaching programs at HBCUs and minority-serving institutions as well as $5 billion to recruit, train, and retain Black K-12 teachers, paying them a minimum salary of $60,000 annually.
“All over this country, too many HBCUs have struggled financially from a lack of federal resources, they’ve suffered from a drop in enrollment and from crushing institutional debt. And yet today, the need for HBCUs and the education they provide has never been greater,” Sanders said during an event at Morehouse College, which drew 2,000 people.
Sanders seemed to be trying to repair his relationship with Black voters for his last run.
In 2016, Sanders was criticized by Black Lives Matter protestors for failing to explicitly recognize the racial injustice at the base of economic inequality facing Black Americans. “This time around, he seems to have taken their concerns seriously,” Mother Jones reported.
Sanders, in fact, reversed some of his prior opinions. For example, when he last ran for president he rejected the idea of reparations for descendants of the formerly enslaved. This time around, he supported legislation to study and develop a reparations proposal. This run, he also unveiled a plan to help Black communities economically. For example, he debuted a proposal to boost marijuana businesses led by Black entrepreneurs.
While Sanders has attracted young Black activists and even Black scholars like Dr. Cornel West, he hasn’t found a foothold with older Black voters, who are sure to show up at the polls.