Bernie Sanders trounced Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary, but pollsters and pundits say that he'll need to win the black vote in order to succeed in more diverse states like South Carolina.
The Clinton campaign has long secured support from many African-American leaders, including Congressional Black Caucus PAC and several prominent black preachers, however Sanders may have a good strategy for catching up.
"The reason we’ll do well is our views on criminal justice in this country," Sanders said Wednesday on ABC's "The View."
"We have a broken criminal justice system. Why should we in America have more people in jail, largely African-American and Latino, than any country on Earth?"
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The morning after winning New Hampshire, Sanders met with civil rights leader Al Sharpton in Harlem, who noted that they sat at the same restaurant table as Barack Obama during his 2007 presidential campaign. The civil rights leader stopped short of making any endorsements, but the meeting was seen as a sign of Sanders' growing viability among minority voters.
"Sanders' tete-a-tete with Sharpton makes clear that the black vote is not Clinton's to take for granted," CNN's Errol Louis wrote in a Wednesday op-ed
Gathered below are eight black leaders who've expressed support for Bernie Sanders.
1. Ta-Nehisi Coates
— "I will be voting for Senator Sanders," the author of the bestselling book, "Between the World and Me," announced Wednesday, The New York Times reported
. "Had you told me this like a year ago, I certainly would not have expected, you know, an avowed socialist to be putting up these sorts of numbers, and actually be contending for the Democratic Party nomination, but I think it’s awesome." Coates is the recent recipient of a MacArthur "genius grant," and rose to prominence after penning a widely read Atlantic article about reparations in 2014. Famed novelist Toni Morrison called his book "required reading."
2. Michelle Alexander
— "From the crime bill to welfare reform, policies Bill Clinton enacted — and Hillary Clinton supported — decimated black America," the author of the best-selling book "The New Jim Crow" wrote Wednesday in an essay for The Nation
, titled "Why Hillary Clinton Doesn't Deserve the Black Vote." "Bill Clinton presided over the largest increase in federal and state prison inmates of any president in American history . . . Sanders opposed the 1996 welfare-reform law. He also opposed bank deregulation and the Iraq War, both of which Hillary supported, and both of which have proved disastrous. In short, there is such a thing as a lesser evil, and Hillary is not it."
3. Rep. Keith Ellison
— The co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who was also the first African-American and the first Muslim to represent Minnesota in the House, endorsed Sanders in October. "I’m endorsing Bernie because he is talking about the issues that are important to American families," Ellison told MSNBC
. "His candidacy is important for many reasons, but I believe the most important part of his candidacy is that it has the ability to create a renaissance in voter participation, which was at its lowest in decades this past election cycle. We’ve all seen the massive crowds he is attracting, and I think that is a testament to his message connecting with people — people we will need to turn out in November."
4. Ben Jealous
— The former head of the NAACP officially endorsed Bernie Sanders just days before the New Hampshire primary. "I recall the words of the late great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus," Jealous said Friday, Politico reported
. "And that brings me to why I'm here today. Bernie Sanders has been a principled, courageous, insistent fighter against the evils that Dr. King referred to as the giant triplets of racism, militarism and greed . . . In short, Bernie Sanders has the courage to confront the institutionalized racism and bias that stains our nation."
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5. Dr. Cornel West
— "Why I Endorse Brother Bernie and Reject Brother Trump," the prominent author and former Princeton professor began a Facebook post
in August. "My endorsement of Brother Bernie in the primaries is not an affirmation of the neo-liberal Democratic Party or a downplaying of the immorality of the ugly Israeli occupation of Palestinians. I do so because he is a long-distance runner with integrity in the struggle for justice for over 50 years. Now is the time for his prophetic voice to be heard across our crisis-ridden country, even as we push him with integrity toward a more comprehensive vision of freedom for all."
6. South Carolina Rep. Justin T. Bamberg
— The South Carolina state representative and the lawyer for the family of Walter Scott, a black man killed by a white police officer in 2015, switched his endorsement from Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders in late January. "Hillary Clinton is more a representation of the status quo when I think about politics or about what it means to be a Democrat," Bamberg said, according to Politico
. "Bernie Sanders on the other hand is bold. He doesn’t think like everyone else. He is not afraid to call things as they are." He added, "Don’t tell me that Sen. Bernie Sanders cannot become president of the United States of America."
7. Big Boi of Outkast
— "I'm for Bernie Sanders because he's with prison reform and things like that," the Grammy-winning rapper who is one half of Outkast said in September, Rolling Stone reported
. "I'm for anything that's helping the good of people and helping people get out of poverty and getting people sentenced to these long unjust prison sentences out of jail and the legalization of marijuana. I'm for that."
8. Michael "Killer Mike" Render
— "It’s official, I support @SenSanders" the rapper who is also one half of the duo Run the Jewels, wrote on Twitter in June, The New York Times reported
. "His call 4 the restoration of the voters rights act sealed the deal for me."
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