It is no surprise that Bernie Sanders picked up this powerful campaign endorsement. He immersed himself in Civil Rights from the very beginning of the 60’s movement. Sanders’ campaigns for civil rights, economic justice, volunteering, and organizing started when he was at the University of Chicago.
Police arrested him for demonstrating for Chicago’s desegregated public schools. Sanders is modest about his involvement:
‘No big deal. You can go outside and get arrested, too! It’s not that hard if you put your mind to it.’
Sanders Campaigns All His Life
He led the Congress of Racial Equality, which was extremely unusual, because most civil rights activists were black. His group was an NAACP ally.
His sophomore year at university, he led Chicago’s first civil rights sit-in. The 20-year-old Sanders exercised his First Amendment right of free speech, standing outside of the University of Chicago’s admin building. Sanders said:
‘We feel it is an intolerable situation, when Negro [the accepted term in the 60’s] and white students of the university cannot live together in university owned apartments.’
Then, he and the crowd that had gathered went inside and camped overnight, right outside the university’s president’s office.
Before he was 23-years-old, Sanders had marched for civil rights in Washington, D.C.
Erica Garner is the daughter of Eric Garner, who died as a result of police brutality and was the catalyst in the Black Lives Matter movement. Since her father died, Garner has worked as an activist and founded the Garner Way Foundation.
Garner Endorses Sanders
Garner published a powerful piece in the “Washington Post” about her disillusionment:
‘If our lives really mattered, we’d have equal access to decent jobs, good schools and affordable housing.’
‘If our lives mattered in this country, we’d have equal access to clean air, clean water and real investment in black neighborhoods.’
‘If black lives mattered in America, those who routinely brutalize us wouldn’t be the ones paid, with our tax dollars, to keep us safe.’
Meeting Victims’ Families
As he compaigns, Sanders is quietly meeting family members of high-profile victims. After a tour of the neighborhood Freddie Gray lived in, he said:
‘Anyone who took the walk that we took around this neighborhood would not think you are in a wealthy nation. You would think you are in a third world country.’
Sanders met the mother and sister of Sandra Bland, and he honored his promise to keep Sandra Bland’s name alive.
Walter Scott’s Attorney
Walter Scott’s family attorney switched her endorsement from Hillary Clinton to publicly endorse Sanders:
‘Who will address the criminalization of our people? Who understands that we’re experiencing an economic crisis made worse by structural barriers to jobs and education?’
‘Who will bring us closer to real safety, freedom and power? Who has clearly shown us where they stand?’
‘The answer is someone who started this work well before campaign season, who understands our deaths as tragedies.’
‘…Not someone who only pays attention to our concerns when it’s time to collect our votes. Not someone who gives us bread crumbs and expects us to be full.’
‘Black Americans — all Americans — need a leader with a record that speaks for itself. And to me, it’s clear. Of all the presidential candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders is our strongest ally.’
Garner believes Sanders is like President Obama:
‘I remember another candidate who dared me to believe in hope and change. His opponents said he wasn’t ready for leadership. They said he couldn’t win.’
‘He said, “Yes, we can.” And we did. I still believe we can. That’s why I endorse Bernie Sanders for president.’