Ben Jealous, the former head of the NAACP, will endorse Bernie Sanders, a source familiar with the campaign told CNN.
The endorsement is a potential boost to Sanders who has struggled to gain traction among African-American voters, though he has made small gains on Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton, according to recent polls.
Jealous is one of many influential Black leaders who have endorsed Sanders, among them Nina Turner, a former Ohio state legislator, Rep. Keith Ellison and Cornel West.
I Endorse Bernie Sanders for President
FEBRUARY 5, 2016| BY BEN JEALOUS
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As prepared for delivery on February 5, 2016:
Thank you. It’s good to be back in New Hampshire. People may wonder why a former head of the NAACP would come all the way up here to speak on behalf of a senator from New England. So let me explain why I’m here.
I am here because my family, like our American family, stretches from the White Mountains of New Hampshire to the black soil of the South. My black grandparents fell in love at Virginia State University, and my white grandparents fell in love right here in Lebanon, New Hampshire, at the local high school.
Growing up in a family that mirrors much of our American family, I can attest to the fact that, if there is one thing that unites our nation as a family, it is our love for our children and our growing concern that the American Dream must not die on our watch. I’ve been awakened by phone calls about a black cousin murdered in Maryland’s streets. I have lain awake at night worried about a white family member, raised not far from here, who was struggling with drug addiction.
I have sat amongst the young people warehoused in our prisons — the most incarcerated Black, Brown, Red and, yes, White men and women on the planet.
And as I speak at colleges and universities across our country, I leave each event haunted by the uniquely high levels of debt borne by our children of all colors who are lucky enough to make it to college…. and the despair that comes from not being able to remember when our nation was not at war.
Each time I travel I come face to face with the violence and addiction that flourishes amongst joblessness.
Each time I travel I am confronted by that joblessness, which has been accelerated by bad domestic policies and even worse foreign policy.
Each time I counsel a young graduate of a public university, saddled with debt because their state cut public education budgets in order to expand incarceration budgets — OR face the national despair and fear that is fostered by a stupid war in Iraq that that has cost us too many lives…too much money…and squandered way too much our nation’s influence overseas…
…. Each time that I feel my faith begin to falter in our collective ability to turn our ship of state around and secure the American Dream for all our children …
I remind myself that…that which bad public policy and fearful politicians have done, good public policy and courageous, principled public servants can undo.
I remember that no matter how tough the challenge may be that we face today, our forefathers and foremothers overcame worse yesterday in order to secure the future for us…and we are just as able to get up, stand up and win great victories for our children right here, right now so that they too may inherit a better tomorrow.
And I recall the words of the late great Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that “a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
And that is why I am here today.
Bernie Sanders has been principled, courageous, and consistent in fighting the evils that Dr. King referred to as the “giant triplets” of racism, militarism, and greed:
As a student in the early 1960s, he got arrested fighting to integrate university housing in Chicago.
Today, as a Senator…. he has an A+ rating from the NAACP.
As a candidate for president, he has the best plan for ending mass incarceration and improving community policing.
And—lest we forget the special tragedy that is the wrongful executionof the innocent (almost always from low-income families and usually black) like Troy Davis— he is the only remaining candidate who opposes the Death Penalty.
As a young man, he opposed the war in Vietnam.
As a US Senator, he voted against the war in Iraq.
And throughout his life he has been a fearless, tireless, and trustworthy champion for the right of all our nation’s children to have full and unfettered access to the American dream.
As President, he will address the sky-high youth unemployment rates in our small towns and inner cities by putting a million more young people to work.
As President, he will solve the student debt crisis at our public universities by making them tuition-free.
And let us not forget, when Wall Street got bailed out, those places where we all live: from main street to the back streets, to the side streets… all got left out.
On the issue of the unfettered greed that has come to define Wall Street…suffice to say, Wall Street’s greediest leaders fear him even more than we have come to fear Wall Street’s biggest and greediest banks.
And when it comes to Dr. King’s definition of a great leader … Bernie Sanders is running a positive, principled, people-powered campaign that has steadily molded consensus across our nation to such a high level that the polls now say he is hands down the best candidate for beating any of the potential Republican nominees at the polls next fall.
Bernie Sanders has the courage to confront the institutionalized bias that stains our nation.
Bernie Sanders leads with the sort of freedom-minded conviction that strikes fear in the Military Industrial Complex, the Prison Industrial complex, and the worst of Wall Street.
And most importantly, Bernie Sanders is the type of leader we can trust to fight for the future of all our nation’s children as if they were his very own.
It is for all these reasons, that I am proud to endorse Bernie Sanders for President of the United States.