Seventy-four year old Vermont Senator and 2016 Presidential candidate hopeful has been working hard to gain the vote and confidence of Black voters. In the past few months we’ve seen him walk the streets of Baltimore, meet with Killer Mike, and even have a conversation with Black Lives Matter activist. Sanders even has a history of marching during the civil rights movement and advocating for change back in the day. Yet and still this has some black voters asking, “What have you done for me lately?” Feeling the heat, Bernie sent in his team to answer that question. On Wednesday Jan 6th, his camp held a national African American Outreach Press Call conducted by his Campaign Manager Jeff Weaver, Senior Strategist Tad Devine, and African American Outreach Director Marcus Ferrell, to discuss the state of the campaign and specific efforts to connect with African Americans as he approaches the first primaries and caucuses.
After a yet another reminder of his civil rights involvement by his senior strategist and constant reassurance that he had enough money to run the race by his campaign manager, his African American Outreach Director laid out the following plan:
- Sanders will continue neighborhood conversations with community stakeholders and leaders in the African American community to hear what they have to say and address those issues,
- Begin a more detailed outreach approach to African Americans in Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi,
- Release a list of all the elected African American officials who endorse Sanders to garner further support from the African American community,
- Embark upon barbershop, beauty shop and park tours to reach the community,
- Embark upon a Historically Black Colleges and Universities tour with a newly hired HBCU coordinator.
- Further engage the faith-based community with the recent hire of a national faith based director
Despite this plan that seems to show that Bernie Sanders is interested in engaging with African American voters in a non-traditional sense, one still has to wonder: Can Bernie pull this off? Are barbershops and chitterling circuit tours enough to get the Black vote? Will touring the highways and byways of the dirty south help Blacks recognize his name more? With the primaries coming right around the corner and Hillary Clinton still leading in the polls, one can only hope that Bernie has “Da’Butt” by EU on a mixtape for his HBCU tour and that his national faith based director has enough prayer cloths to go around.