Bernie Sanders plans to take Georgia primary vote

Atlanta felt the Bern on Feb. 16. Photo by Jade Johnson | The Signal
Atlanta felt the Bern on Feb. 16. Photo by Jade Johnson | The Signal
Atlanta felt the Bern at Morehouse College, Feb. 16, 2016.
Photo by Jade Johnson | The Signal

On Feb. 16 Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders told a packed arena at Morehouse College that he thinks he’ll win the Georgia primary elections.

“We started the campaign in Iowa 50 points behind and ended with a virtual tie. We started in New Hampshire 30 points down; we won,” he said. “We started in Georgia way, way, way down, and I think we’re going to win right here.”

The Vermont senator drew nearly 5,000 supporters to the rally at Morehouse’s Forbe’s Arena, as part of an effort to engage minority voters and appeal to the the nation’s student body.

That evening was the first stop on Sanders’ campaign tour of historic black colleges and universities (HBCU) with a trip to the Atlanta University Center (AUC), an academic consortium composed of Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, Morehouse College and the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Student government officials from AUC schools introduced the cabinet of Bernie-backers who went on to endorse Sanders’ opposition to “establishment politics,” “establishment economics,” the financial punishment students endure for “the crime of pursuing higher education.”

There to introduce Sanders was Georgia state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, who’s recently switched his public endorsement from Hillary Clinton’s campaign to Sanders’. Fort commended Sanders for his “courage to take on the Wall Street billionaires.”

“He’ll break up the big banks,” Fort continued, “and he’s the only candidate with a [worthwhile] health care plan, medicaid for all.”

Fort also said he’s backing the Vermont senator because of his staunch opposition to America’s “starving” — as Sanders calls it — minimum wage. Fort’s long been an advocate in Georgia’s “Fight for $15 [minimum wage]” mission.

“Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who will join us on that fight…so that every American gets paid a livable wage,” he said.

South Carolina State Rep. Justin Bamberg was among speakers preceding Sanders’ speech. The senator, who’s credited with representing the family of Walter Scott, a black man slain by a white cop in traffic stop gone awry, said he too flip-flopped from the Clinton bandwagon onto Sander’s train of political momentum.

And Atlanta native and Sanders’ pal Michael Render, widely known as “Killer Mike” from rap group Run the Jewels, told the packed auditorium that, as a self-proclaimed “social justice warrior,” he’s pushing Sanders’ cause to reform America’s “corrupt” criminal justice system to keep targeted minorities from the prison pipeline.

“I’m here to help you understand the plight of the black man,” Render said. “We’re here because slaves chose to educate their children…Bernie is the only candidate whose policy lines up [against racial profiling].”

Render and Sanders drew applause for promises to end the war on drugs, claiming pot possession should no longer taint the record of young people in the job market.

Sanders also hit on hot-button political contention surrounding gender pay equity and campaign finance corruption. Still, some in attendance told The Signal they wished he’d expound upon how all these free reform plans can be sustainably funded.

“I liked that he identified all the issues that he has a problem with; all valid issues. But I don’t think they can all be addressed in four years,” said Georgia State student Dana Tzegaegbe. “But as a presidential candidate you need to let people know of your intentions.”

Christina Maxouris contributed reporting for this article.

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