Yesha Callahan

Bernie Sanders Hires Black Press Secretary & Releases Policy Platform to Combat Racial Inequality

Over the weekend, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is slowly gaining on front-runner Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, announced a major campaign hire: Symone Sanders, an African-American woman active in the criminal justice reform movement, is now his press secretary.

The hire probably was intended to address lingering complaints that Sanders has a blind spot when it comes to race, but it may not be a quick fix: On the same day as Symone Sanders’ debut, #BlackLivesMatter activists again showed up to harass the candidate at a rally in Seattle.

And now, Sanders has finally unveiled his policy platform to combat racial inequality.

Included in his policy are police reforms that include: the demilitarization of police forces, a federal program giving police body cameras, and increasing police transparency and accountability. Sanders also wants to end mandatory sentences for non-violent offenses.

“It is an obscenity that we stigmatize so many young Americans with a criminal record for smoking marijuana, but not one major Wall Street executive has been prosecuted for causing the near collapse of our entire economy. This must change,” he said. “We must address the lingering unjust stereotypes that lead to the labeling of black youths as ‘thugs.’ We know the truth that, like every community in this country, the vast majority of people of color are trying to work hard, play by the rules and raise their children. It’s time to stop demonizing minority communities.”

Sanders also wants to expand the Voting Rights Act and proposes to end laws that banned convicted felons the right to vote.

Activist Deray Mckesson commented on Twitter about Sanders’s platform:

Does Sanders have your vote?

Photo Credits:  Getty Images

  1. August 11, 2015 - Reply

    THANK GOD! i was seriously starting to question a world where hillary clinton & donald trump were the main contenders for leader of the free world. isht was getting ridiculous out here. the democrats better start throwing out names b/c the republicans are clearly ready to put any old body in the white house & hillary ain’t all that. looking forward to hear more from indies too.

  2. August 11, 2015 - Reply

    Hillary thinks she’s entitled to the black vote. Thinking like that screwed her once and is going to screw her again.

    I’m cautiously optimistic about Bernie Sanders; I also want to see what Martin O’Malley will do.

  3. August 11, 2015 - Reply

    I’m curious as to why the “activists” would “harass” this particular candidate but not all the other candidates as well.
    Paid agitators?

    • August 11, 2015 - Reply


      I thought about that too.

    • August 11, 2015 - Reply


      Exactly what I was thinking. Why target only him? He’s a big threat to Hillary and she knows it.

    • August 12, 2015 - Reply


      I believe they just tried to do the same for Hillary but was shut out and wasn’t able to get to the stage like they have for Bernie. IMO, I wouldn’t waste time “harassing” a candidate that wasn’t going anywhere and that I didn’t have any interest in voting for.

  4. August 11, 2015 - Reply

    This story certainly reminds us that we have powerful voices. Many candidates are expressing views that deal with economic and racial justice. We realize that addressing economic inequality is great, but it’s not enough. There must be also policies to address discrimination, and other forms of structural racism that exists in our country. I have looked at Bernie Sanders’ site and platform on combating racial inequality. It has a lot of information that I agree with from the demilitarization of police forces to ending all forms of mandatory sentencing practices. I wish the best for Sister Symone Sanders. It is obvious that Bernie Sanders is more progressive than Hillary Clinton on criminal justice issues and on other issues. As for the two women who interrupted Bernie Sanders, people have the right to agree or disagree with their actions, but these women shouldn’t be called out of their names or disrespected in an offensive way (which some in the Internet has done). If I had to choose between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, then I choose Bernie Sanders. If Bernie wins the Democratic nomination, then it is obvious who I will vote for. One thing that I won’t do is vote for Donald Trump (he never apologized for his vile misogynistic statements). Bernie Sanders has massive popularity with over 20,000 people visiting him in LA. We have to maintain our independent thinking and fight for justice regardless.

    • August 11, 2015 - Reply

      you know the thing about trump that’s getting him so much play from republicans is that he’s bold & unapologetic. i can’t say that i don’t get why folks like it. it’s the same reason i criticize obama for not being more deliberate & more vocal about black issues b/c being pc all the time hardly gets results for the most afflicted folks. the marginalized population keeps waiting around for progress to finally reach them, & when you finally see a trailblazer come through, it’s easy to root for that style of rhetoric. for folks who believe in the things he’s saying, trump is their hype man & it probably feels great to have a figure head standing up & saying what they could never say & no other politician has been brave/confident enough to say. but for me, it just reminds me how many real racists, mysogynists, & greedy capitalists live & vote in this country. the other thing is that i feel like hillary is relying on trump being so polarizing that folks are going to go running to her, but that’s not the case & she should know it by now b/c her being polarizing is what cost her crucial votes in 08. like someone else said, she made the mistake once of thinking she had the black vote in the bag, then proceeded to shoot herself in the foot. if she thinks trump’s loud mouth will guarantee her anything, she’s going to lose to the sorriest candidate in american history.

      • August 11, 2015 - Reply


        Great points. Hillary wants Trump to be like Ross Perot (in the sense that some in Hillary’s camp want his to run in a third party candidacy). Yet, the problem is that when a candidate like Bernie Sanders has about 27,000 people in a LA rally alone while Hillary has a few thousand people at various rallies concern her. As you have mentioned, many Republicans love Trump because he gets to say in public what many Republicans only say in private. Trump is unapologetic, but he is lax on many specifics on how he gets his goals accomplished. Trump knows that his base of support includes many people who are explicit extremists. His comments about Megyn Kelly, that changed the game since a wide spectrum of people criticized him for his vile statements. Hillary in the beginning was naive to believe that she automatically has the black vote, but black people are diverse. Sanders’ campaign has a lot of support from people who are angry at establishment politics. This is the time where more radical voices want their voices heard.

  5. August 11, 2015 - Reply

    Sanders is the only candidate that has a good track record on these issues. He is drawing more crowds than Hillary and O’Malley. It’s one thing to get Sanders to talk more about racial injustice, it’a another to say he doesn’t care. BLM has made so many blunders that I don’t think these guys are ready to take an important cause to the national stage. There are going to ruin the cause and set us back. Their tactics, (in some cases bullying others into going along with their foolish tactics), their lack of understanding of how laws have contributed to these draconian police practices, their idea of not building alliances – making this solely a black only thing (Huey Newton never believed in that), their hysterical reaction to constructive criticism, their unwillingness to listen to the old guard of the civil rights movement, their ridiculous attacks on progressives who are on their side, and their idea of change through “revolution” which usually means taking up arms against the state through some form of uprising. If a group of white men with assault rifles couldn’t do it, what makes you think a group of young african americans are going to succeed in doing so? Malcolm X would be appalled by the actions of these two women.

    The tea party did what some on the left always fail at – and that is voting. The folks at Occupy didn’t believe in voting and I’ll bet you the people who make up BLM don’t believe in voting as well but older white Republicans do! They protest by getting involved in state and local politics. By getting politicians to change or do away with laws they oppose – to the detriment of others and themselves. They have every moderate Republican looking over their shoulders. If they don’t along with what they want, they throw the bum out in the next election. They have effectively halted President Obama’s legislative agenda. He can’t get anything through Congress without getting a majority of tea party Republicans. When was the last time you saw a major piece of legislation that was passed through Congress other than ACA? Obama wanted free tuition for students for community colleges and the GOP said NOPE.

    You are not going to change anything unless you focus on changing the laws and electing the right people who will facilitate that change on a state, local and national level. BLM are so fixated on making publicity stunts that I’ve tuned out. I suppose the cause but no the people running with it. So far, BLM has yet to outline a list of proposals that would end police brutality, and mass incarceration of black men and women. And why should BLM challenge the Republicans? I mean, I know that would make sense but we all know where they stand. They will never ever get on board with anything that challenges the status quo because their constituency is made of up of right wing white racists who SUPPORT a lot of these draconian laws and abusive policing practices that has resulted in the death of innocent people. A republican supporting police reform would spell the demise of his or her political career.

    • August 12, 2015 - Reply


      I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, but not all. The think I think everyone needs to realize is that whites are able to be looked at as individuals, but whatever one Black person does, that unfairly is a representation of all of us. I don’t believe these women were really about the BLM cause, but at the same time, BLM is staying neutral about them. I believe as long as unarmed Black people continue to get hurt/killed by cops/racists and the cops/racists not face justice, there is no way BLM will ever be discredited, no matter how they react.

      Also, it’s not BLM’s job to propose anything to end police brutality and racism – that’s what lawmakers are for, but it’s the lawmakers’ responsibility to reach out to the community, especially regarding this movement and where it stands right now.

      Here is a comment I read on FB yesterday and I thought it hit every point:

      Jermah Clements When Bernie Sanders loses, you can have angry white progressives to thank for this. This entire comments section is filled with arrogant and racist a**hats.

      You act as if black lives matter activities are “attacking” Bernie to damage him, when they are openly CONFRONTING a man who wants THEIR votes, because he isn’t LISTENING TO THEM!!! Meanwhile YOU’RE attacking minorities not because YOU need to be heard because your passions are being ignored by someone seeking your vote, but because you want to shout down minorities and only focus on what YOU care about……. Yea that’s not racist…..

      Bernie Sanders is the one looking for minority votes!!!! Minorities did NOT flock to Vermont and pluck Bernie out of a holy tree to be their progressive messiah. He came to US and wants OUR vote! He wants other minority votes.

      Think of why he is YOUR champion….. Because he talks passionately about the issues YOU car about most!!!!

      And when ppl like Mike Brown were killed by law enforcement, all HE wanted to talk about was the unemployment rate there when EVERYONE ELSE wanted to directly address disproportionate police brutality. And when ppl politely challenged him on this, he was dismissive and be have in a way that HE knew how to fix race issues, and knew better than the minorities to to engage them. That they did not understand…

      So when you are invited to speak to minorities grappling with physical violence from state sanctioned agents, and other dealing with the horrors of immigration and all YOU want to talk about is banks bad, raise wages, and social security, it shows you are not LISTENING!!!!! And you are not talking about the things the ppl who’s vote you want and NEED care about most right now!!!

      Just look at the comments by his supporters….. “black lives matter is bulls**”…..” Blacks this… Blacks that…. BLM is a lie”…. B**hing about ppl who had enough of man who needs THEIR vote but keeps talking at them instead of too them…. Saying “Youre attacking am ally” when majority of his white progressive supporters then turn around and do the same thing with an added dose of racism…..

      You are the ones who wants OUR vote…you NEED our vote. And it’s not just because Hilary has secret service…. She also HAS been talking about immigration, racial injustice, systemic racism In law enforcement, racism in the justice system AND economic inequality!!! She was at least talking about it… Because she knows she cannot ignore the important issues of the voters she NEEDS!!!

      Something too many of the idiots here cannot grasp.

      You just expect minorities to show up and endorse candidates YOU care most about, who talk passionately about the issues YOU care most about. God FORBID minorities demand the same thing of candidates coming to them for votes!!! And what happens when you don’t listen when ppl try to ask nicely??? You don’t listen!!!! If you did listen we wouldn’t be here were we are!!! You ONLY listen when ppl have had enough and interrupt you!!!

      This comments section proves everything about this article to be true. YOU are Bernie Sanders worst enemies…. BLM had to FORCE him to talk about MORE than just white white progressives care most about….. FORCE him…..

      And all you can do it sit around bitter that you didn’t like the tactics when other tactics havnt worked for decades….

      Saw a comment, here that black ppl were selfish because they expect progressives to change their entire platform just for them….

      Its obvious to me this person does not grasp the concept of when YOU go to other people and need THEM, you talk about the things important to them, or get lost!!!!

      Congratulations though…. You’ve done more harm to his campaign than any Republican ever could.

      You ppl are not allies!!! If the existence of black lives matter bothers you, you are no ally. If you think minorities should shut up about their issues and just vote for the issues YOU care about, you are NO ally. If you mock minorities and blm you are no ally. If you keep pivoting to one issue when ppl you’re engaging wish to talk about something else, you are no ally. If you have to be FORCED to talk about issues important to the ppl you need, you are disingenuous….

      Yea you can all spit venom and hate at me all day. Call me a moron, call me an idiot, make fun of my race, tell me MY issues are not real issues, and for me to ask nicely and politely not to be murdered by cops, but when he loses with his 5% minority approval (because of ppl such as yourselves) just remember this thread…. Because you’re not going to bully us into voting for your candidate you’re passionate about if he won’t speak about what we’re passionate about. (the fact he has FINALLY begun to talk about these issues THANKS to the BLM activists you hate so d*mn much, is a start)

      This article is incredible and accurately lays out the ENTIRE issue…. And yet it’s STILL not good enough for you all….. Once again showing you REFUSE TO LISTEN… Then you’re shocked when you then get inconvenienced and disrupted…. Because it’s literally the ONLY way to get through your thick skulls!!!!

      And what you don’t get most of all…. You can’t claim to be an ally and a champion of someone else’s rights over 50 years when all you want to do is talk about what’s passionate to YOU, and NOT whats passionate to them!!!!!! Especially when in all your time in Vermont with a 95% white population you’ve never put through any policy that “championed” these minority rights still being fought for .

      I had to search far and wide for positive comments in this thread…. Instead of using this as a learning moment you’re just showing how much work still needs to be done… And that doing so nicely will NEVER be enough.

      This whole article was “doing it nicely” and you STILL spit on it!!!

      Such irony…..

      *The article he was responding to is: “Black Lives Matter vs. Bernie Sanders, explained” by Dara Lind on vox. com

  6. August 11, 2015 - Reply

    Politicians easily give lip service that I’m wary of them so I’m unsure how to feel about Bernie, no matter how good a candidate in the end for me all politicians are corrupt in one way or another.

    For me its more about trying not to waste the opportunity to vote that my ancestors gave me rather than voting for someone with the hopes they’ll be different.

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