Erica Garner, the eldest daughter of the late Eric Garner —who died in 2014 after being put in a chokehold by New York police — has publicly endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
“Black Americans—all Americans—need a leader with a record that speaks for itself. And to me, it’s clear. Of all the presidential candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders is our strongest ally,” Garner wrote in a Washington Post column.
Garner titled her column, “Black lives like my father’s should matter. That’s why I’m endorsing Bernie Sanders.” That statement alone speaks volumes; it implies that Sanders is the candidate who truly believes that black lives matter.
Her announcement is very profound and symbolizes the drastic shift of Sanders' campaign.
Initially, it seemed that Hillary Clinton was a shoe-in for the minority vote, particularly the black vote, considering her husband was favored among the black community while he was in office.
Despite his shortcomings, there’s a running “joke” that Bill Clinton was really the “first black president,” which was first coined by novelist, Toni Morrison.
Another reason it seemed like Sanders had struck out with the black community is that early in his campaign, several black activists challenged his politics and values during rallies.
They interrupted his speeches, attempting to force him to explicitly address his plans for criminal justice reform and improving race relations in America.
Garner addressed those situations in her column:
“When protesters challenged Sanders last summer, that relationship was tested. They publicly questioned whether the most progressive candidate in the field viewed racial justice as a nonnegotiable demand. The optics were messy, but he heard us. He prioritized a racial justice platform. He spoke out, in speeches and debates, about Sandra Bland and declared that black lives do matter. He heard us, and I believe he’ll continue to listen.”
She went on to say that Sanders is “learning from us, working with us and respecting the power of we, the people, over the established political machine.”
Garner’s assessment of Sanders’ commitment to “we, the people” doesn’t only apply to minorities but also to the American working class.
In addition to solidifying popularity among black people, he has also gained the trust of the country’s low-wage workers who are in an ongoing battle of their own for better living wages.
Sanders is proving himself to be in tune with what marginalized Americans are looking for in a president. Garner’s stamp of approval just drives it all home.
She concluded her column with a subtle comparison between Sanders and President Barack Obama: “I remember another candidate who dared me to believe in hope and change. His opponents said he wasn’t ready for leadership. They said he couldn’t win. He said, ‘Yes, we can.’ And we did. I still believe we can. That’s why I endorse Bernie Sanders for president.”
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