Election 2020

Trying to Build African-American Support, Bernie Meets Al Sharpton

Rev. Al Sharpton embraces Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as they arrive for a breakfast meeting at Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem on Feb. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) faces a deficit with African-American voters headed into the Feb. 20 South Carolina primary.

A mid-January Marist poll out of South Carolina showed Hillary Clinton with a 74 percent to 17 percent lead with black voters. Her lead in the state with white Democrats is 52-41 percent.

Sanders is trying to overcome this with key endorsements and favorables stacked in his corner.

Exit polls from New Hampshire showed 95 percent of Sanders’ voters found him honest and trustworthy, while 3 percent of Hillary voters thought Bernie was the only honest one. Sanders also beat Clinton by far on which candidate cares most about ordinary people.

Sanders won with all demographics except the 65 and older segment of voters and those earning more than $200,000 a year.

Bernie has not been without black support this whole time. Rapper Killer Mike has stumped for Sanders in campaign spin rooms, and last week former NAACP president Ben Jealous endorsed the senator.

“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,” Jealous said. “Bernie Sanders has the courage to confront the institutionalized bias that stains our nation. 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 these United States.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates has criticized Sanders for opposing reparations, but still plans to vote for Bernie. “One can say Senator Sanders should have more explicit antiracist policy within his racial justice platform, not just more general stuff, and still cast a vote for Senator Sanders and still feel that Senator Sanders is the best option that we have in the race,” Coates told Democracy Now. “…I will be voting for Senator Sanders.”

And fresh off his resounding victory over Clinton in New Hampshire, Sanders headed to Harlem today with Jealous to dine with Al Sharpton at Sylvia’s soul food restaurant.

Sharpton met at the same restaurant with then-Sen. Obama during the 2008 campaign.

Sanders didn’t take questions from reporters after the sit-down, and Sharpton simply posted a photo of the meeting on the National Action Network website. The pair reportedly discussed the contaminated-water crisis in Flint, Mich., affirmative action, police brutality and more.

As Bernie tries to overcome his demographics challenges in South Carolina, he certainly won’t be hurting for money — the campaign set a new one-day fundraising record with $5.2 million from small donors in the 18 hours since polls closed in the Granite State.