Bernie Sanders’ 50 Years of Civil Rights Activism

At one point, during the interlude (confrontation? interruption? those words feel judgmental) at Netroots Nation 2015 when Tia Oso and other activists tried to engage Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, Sanders got frustrated.

“Black lives of course matter, but I have spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and if you don’t want me to be here that’s OK.”

His comment, which is being interpreted as him being frustrated and somewhat short-tempered, is a great example of why many black activists are frustrated and somewhat short-tempered (to say the least).

Sanders, qualifying what I’m willing to say is a sincere belief on his part that black lives do matter, managed to frame the issue around what his own experience has been.

A critical element of this movement and this moment is centering black experience—learning to make it the focus, working to prioritize it, trusting in it without giving it the stamp of white experience for legitimacy.

I’m sorry that we don’t seem to have any candidates on the left who understand that.

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3 Responses to Bernie Sanders’ 50 Years of Civil Rights Activism

  1. katydidknot says:

    He flubbed his response and didn’t think on his feet.

    On the other hand, when I saw him in Houston the very next day, he was mentioning the victims of police violence by name.

    So the protesters achieved something. Their message was heard even if all the candidates are, as usual, elitists who can’t relate with their experiences.

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