All eyes on the Black vote
GEORGE E. CURRY | 2/22/2016, 6:23 a.m.
In the Sanders corner are entertainer and long-time civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., Professor Cornell West, former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous and writer Ta-Nehesi Coates.
In endorsing Clinton, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said in response to a reporter’s question, “I never saw him. I never met him [Sanders]. I was chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years, from 1963 to 1966,” Lewis said. “I was involved with the sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery [Alabama] and directed [the] voter education project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President [Bill] Clinton.”
Meanwhile, Clinton is being attacked for policies of her husband that expanded the incarceration rate of African Americans, especially Black males.
Michelle Alexander, the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, wrote an article for the Nation magazine under the headline, “Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote.”
Each side needs to step back and acknowledge that both Sanders and Clinton have excellent records on civil rights – each consistently earns an A on the NAACP Legislative Report Card. And yes, both have longtime ties to the Civil Rights Movement.
Frankly, I am tired of hearing each of them say how much better Blacks would be under a Sanders or Clinton administration without offering any evidence. Without a doubt, either would be infinitely better than anyone running for president on the Republican side. And each Democratic candidate, in his and her own way, have acknowledged as much.
Rather than continuing a mindless debate about who is the real progressive in the race, let each of them offer detailed proposals that show that Black Lives Matter. So far, when the subject of race has come up, neither has been particularly impressive. They tend to focus their remarks on reforming the criminal justice system – which is extremely important –but our problems extend beyond the prison pipeline.
After they detail their specific proposals, Black voters will determine who is the real progressive.
George E. Curry is president and CEO of George Curry Media LLC. He can be reached through http://www.georgecurry.com. Follow him on Facebook and Periscope.