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Bernie, Civil Rights and Jesse

During his passionate five-minute endorsement of Jesse, Bernie calls the Jackson campaign “the most courageous and exciting political campaign in the modern history of our nation.”

Some of you reading this now may be too young and may never have heard that the 1988, Jesse Jackson campaign won 13 primaries and caucuses, 7 million votes, and 1,218.5 national convention delegates. Might not remember the 1984 and 1988 Jackson campaigns helped register millions of young Black voters who were still active when it came time to vote for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. You might be old enough to remember that those two Jackson campaigns forced changes in the Democratic Party rules to make them fairer and more proportional—rules changes which opened the door to Obama’s victory a generation later.

One of those 13 states that Jesse Jackson won, in an upset, was the Vermont caucus in April of 1988, in a very close contest over Governor Michael Dukakis. And one of Jesse’s key supporters in that surprise victory was the mayor of Burlington, whom I heard of for the first time as I toured the world. Bernie clearly understood the historic nature of Jesse’s run.

In the closing of Sanders’s nomination speech he said:

“The candidate we are supporting tonight has stood for us and fought for us for the last 25 years of his life. Along with Martin Luther King Jr., he put his life on the line so that all Americans, regardless of color, could receive their basic democratic rights.”

“He was there when we needed him. Our candidate has stood with the farmers being thrown off the land. He has stood with the workers on the picket lines being thrown out of their jobs. He was there when we needed him…”

“I place in nomination, with a great deal of personal pride, the name of Jesse Jackson.”

I am told that Bernie Sanders entered into politics through the civil rights movement, more than a half century ago. That he organized with CORE (the Congress of Racial Equality) in Chicago, and led a sit-in against segregated housing as far back as 1962. Now I can not tell you whether Sanders was in Selma or not but I do know at a very pivotal time, when it mattered, to quote Jesse himself, Bernie “stepped across the color line,” in 1988. That I saw for myself!


About AJ Woodson (2406 Articles)
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company. AJ is a Father, Brother, Author, Writer, Journalism Fellow, Rapper, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian and A Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale,,, Rolling Out Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine and several others.
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