CNN broke the news that Bernie Sanders has earned the endorsement of Ben Jealous, former head of the NAACP. Senator Sanders, like then-Senator Barack Obama in the 2008 primary, has started way behind in African-American support. Candidate Obama flipped black voter support following his inspirational victory in the Iowa caucus, even though Hillary Clinton rebounded to win the New Hampshire primary. Bernie Sanders, will need a victory in New Hampshire while also continuing to make the case on why his policies are better for people of color if he is to win the Democratic nomination. Prominent endorsements will certainly help, as will a strong informational campaign that Sanders’ platform is best to roll back unfair policies that have created a new Jim Crow justice system.
— CNN (@CNN) February 4, 2016
We are humbled and excited to have the endorsement of South Carolina Rep. Joseph Neal! @BernieSanders @People4Bernie pic.twitter.com/Rf9rYwTTQt — Project Bernie ’16 (@ProjectBernie16) February 2, 2016
Michelle Alexander has so eloquently detailed the New Jim Crow system in her bestselling book and has called into question why Hillary Clinton should enjoy such large African-American support. Our drug laws, starting with marijuana laws across the nation, have created a system that keeps a large percentage of people of color in second-class citizen status. With our nation’s shameful racist history, minorities already suffer through a plethora of institutional racist policies. The Drug War has exacerbated the unjust situation by decimating minority communities by throwing a disproportionate number of people of color in prison. African-Americans and hispanics make up 25% of our population, but 58% of the prison population. That is a national disgrace.
— The New Press (@thenewpress) November 16, 2015
In addition to draconian prison sentences, our drug laws then prevent the ability of offenders to seek financial aid, employment and even housing. Family members suffering through poverty, are punished for the drug convictions of relatives, and kicked out of public housing. Many states deprive felons the right to vote, a despicable practice that should be declared unconstitutional. Nearly 6 million American citizens have been disenfranchised; one in thirteen African Americans do not have the right to vote. Can you even imagine the outrage from our elected officials if tomorrow more than 7% of white voters were removed from the voter rolls?
I became a cannabis law reform activist because I saw firsthand my black friends were treated more harshly for marijuana than my white middle class friends and I learned the dire consequences that a minor marijuana misdemeanor could have on a young person’s life. If we are going to roll back the New Jim Crow, we need real progressive changes to our drug laws and criminal justice system. Incremental change is simply not enough. As more and more people of color learn about Bernie Sanders history and platform, I expect his support from minority communities to only increase.
— Montel Williams (@Montel_Williams) February 4, 2016