Ben Jealous On The ‘Gift’ The Sanders Campaign Gave Progressives

Isaiah J. Poole

The one major achievement that has eluded Bernie Sanders during his presidential campaign was winning the majority of the African-American vote in a primary. In fact, Sanders has never registered more than a third of the African-American vote in a primary or caucus, according to exit polls; in some states, competing candidate Hillary Clinton won more than 80 percent of the black vote.

Despite that, Ben Jealous, who was one of the most prominent civil rights activists to jump early onto the Sanders bandwagon, says he has reasons to be hopeful that the progressive movement that arises out of the Sanders campaign will be a multiracial one.

In an interview with OurFuture.org, Jealous, the former president of the NAACP who now a partner in a venture capital firm, said there were several reasons African-American political progressives sided with Clinton over Sanders. But he said there will be more unity as energy shifts during the election year to down-ballot races, and as organizing continues around such issues as trade, where Jealous said Sanders was beginning to make some inroads with black voters. Also encouraging to see during the campaign, he said, was the broad support for racial justice issues among older as well as younger white voters.

“We’ve actually shown that there are greater commonalities in agenda that span across silos that, quite frankly, people have had the courage to explore this far,” Jealous said. “That’s been the real gift of this campaign.”

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