The Vermont senator concluded a two-part launch in the Windy City, harking back to his student days in the civil rights era
In the city that inspired his political activism, Bernie Sanders concluded a two-part presidential campaign launch with a personal anecdote: As a college student in Chicago, he was arrested during a civil rights protest against segregation of public schools.
Before a crowd of 12,500 at the Navy Pier on Sunday night, Sanders recalled that in the 1960s, school officials in Chicago set up portable trailers for black students to keep them from attending white schools.
One day, many of us went to the spot where they planned to put the trailers, Sanders said. We were corralled by a police line and told not to cross that line.
Well, some of us did cross that line!
An exuberant crowd roared in applause.
As Sanders embarks on a second bid for the White House to, as he says, finish what we started, the 77-year-old democratic socialist is attempting to build a new kind of campaign that avoids a key weakness of his 2016 run by expanding his appeal to nonwhite voters.
At rallies in Brooklyn and Chicago this week, Sanders injected his now-familiar policy speech with details of his biography, part of a new approach his advisers and aides hope will help to distinguish him connect with voters as he competes in a historically diverse field, led by women and minority candidates.
All of the familiar policy planks were there in Chicago: Medicare for all, tuition-free public college and a $15 minimum wage. But in the middle of his remarks he offered a glimpse of the personal experiences that helped to shape them.
The reason I tell you all of this is because my activities here in Chicago taught me a very important lesson, he said. Whether it is the struggle is against racism, or sexism, or corporate greed, or homophobia, environmental devastation, or war and militarism or religious bigotry – real change never takes place from the top on down. It always takes place from the bottom on up.
In Brooklyn, Sanders said one of the proudest days of my life was being in Washington with the marchers when Martin Luther King delivered his I have a dream speech.
During his last campaign, the Vermont independent struggled to win over African Americans and other minority voters. But since losing to Hillary Clinton, Sanders has worked to strengthen ties with the black community, he continues to face criticism for the way his speaks about race and racism.
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