Bernie Sanders focuses on race in Chicago rally – Washington Examiner

Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., pitched himself as a civil rights advocate during a campaign event in Chicago on Sunday.

Sanders, who in February announced his second White House bid, spoke of his time in the Windy City as a young transfer student at the University of Chicago in the 1960s and his involvement in the civil rights, labor, and peace movements. In particular, he emphasized his work pushing for desegregated student housing on campus and an integrated public school system.

“The reason I tell you all of this is because my activities here in Chicago taught me a very important lesson that I have never forgotten,” he said at Chicago’s Navy Pier. “And that is that whether it is the struggle against corporate greed, against racism, sexism, homophobia, environmental devastation, or war and militarism — real change never takes place from the top on down.”

He also invoked the names of African-Americans killed in police shootings as he talked about the need to “speak out against the disparity within the disparity.”

Sanders’ call to “end the institutional racism which permeates almost every aspect of our society” comes after he spent Sunday morning in Selma, Ala., commemorating the 54th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

The longtime senator, one of a handful of white men running in the historically diverse Democratic 2020 primary, has a complicated record on race. He told the Daily Beast last November that “white folks” may have felt too “uncomfortable” to vote for black candidates in the 2018 elections, explaining the losses of Democratic gubernatorial candidates Andrew Gillum in Florida and Stacey Abrams in Georgia.

Sunday’s rally follows through on a promise he made to be more personal on the campaign trail as he contests the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination again. During an event on Saturday, Sanders shared details of his upbringing near New York’s Brooklyn College where he attended before moving to Chicago.

“But I had something more valuable: I had the role model of a father who had unbelievable courage in journeying across an ocean, with no money in his pocket, to start a new and better life,” he said, referring to the influence his paint salesman father, Elias Sanders, had on his childhood and political outlook.

Sanders, who has strong support among Democratic voters according to early polls, will officially launch his campaign in Burlington, Vt., after a five-state swing through Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, and California.

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