Does Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders Have a #BlackLivesMatter Problem?

Democratic presidential hopeful remains the underdog as he rallies for African American voters

Bernie Sanders (Image: File)

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has gotten more than a bit of news coverage for his relationship with Black Lives Matter activists. Polls reflect Hillary Clinton is the favorite among African Americans (attracting an 80% rating), with Sanders lagging behind with a rating of 23%.

The Black Lives Matter movement which gained momentum on social media—with a hashtag that went viral after the death of Michael Brown—expanded into an organization of activists rallying for social justice after a series of shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers. It has become an influencing agent of dialogue and change, and recently interrupted two major Sanders events, demanding that Sanders directly address issues related to institutional racism in housing, education and criminal justice. Sanders has spoken about issues of police corruption and discrimination and has a history as a young radical promoting the civil rights movement in the 1960s, but some feel it’s not enough.

“This is something that the Sanders campaign is going to have to solve because it’s going to be problematic if he has any chance of winning the nomination,” Democratic Strategist and Pollster, Cornell Belcher, told Politico. “Because the truth is if you can’t compete and win black votes in a Democratic primary, you are not going to be the Democratic nominee. If you can’t compete for black voters this means you can’t win South Carolina, you can’t win NC, you can’t win GA, you can’t win Louisiana, you can’t win Mississippi.”

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