Bernie Sanders Earns Endorsement of Former NAACP Leader, Criminal Justice Platform Will Continue Momentum

   

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.

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.

If anyone doubts that the mainstream media fails to tell the truth about our political system (and its true winners and…

Posted by Michelle Alexander on Thursday, January 28, 2016

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.

 

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.