By: Al Such
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders held a rally at Morehouse College Tuesday night as part of a tour involving historically black colleges and universities around the United States. According to Sanders’ campaign website, the “Feel the Burn” tour will bring to light issues in US criminal justice and public college systems.
Speakers from the Atlanta University center as well as several senators from states such as South Carolina and Ohio spoke before Sanders at the event which seated nearly 5,000, according to the Huffington Post.
Trey Barkoo, 19, who identifies himself as an undecided voter, said he was waiting to hear what Sanders had to say about a few issues which were important to him. While Barkoo says he knows who he will not vote for, Sanders’ opinions on issues such as healthcare and race relations will be what decide Barkoo’s vote.
“I would like to see Bernie address some of the issues in the black community,” Barkoo said.
The purpose of Sanders’ HBCU tour is to bolster support among African American voters. Rapper Michael “Killer Mike” Render introduced Sanders in a passionate speech which addressed issues within the black community.
“I was destined to be a black man born in America,” Render said, “but that wasn’t always easy.”
Attendees to the event included students, supporters and undecided voters of all ages. 93-year-old Charlene Coburn attended the event with the intention of convincing older voters to rally with Sanders. According to Coburn, Sanders’ audience is mostly millennials.
“He impressed me as an honest, fresh start,” Coburn said.
Austin Young, 18, says that he has been a supporter of Sanders for a long time.
“He’s a different candidate than we’ve ever seen,” Young said, “While secretary Clinton was a great candidate, Bernie is a better fit.”
Once Sanders took the podium, he addressed concerns he says he’s heard voiced to him during his campaign. He said that he was aware that many voters believed Sanders to be too extreme in his policies.
“They said well, Bernie, we like the way you comb your hair,” Sanders said as the crowd laughed.
Sanders went on to say, “the American people understand some very profound truths,” naming issues which Sanders intended to focus on during his presidency.
According to Sanders, he hopes to combat a corrupt campaign finance system. Sanders says he disapproves of the way that corporations can funnel “unlimited” funds into a candidate’s campaign. According to Sanders, this process undermines the democratic process.
Sanders also denounced the minimum sentencing for offenses Sanders considers minor. Further criticizing the criminal justice system, Sanders referenced the killings of unarmed black men by police officers, referring to them as “horrors.”
Sanders also questioned the state of the American economy.
“America’s economy is rigged,” Sanders said. He referenced the Walton family, calling them the largest welfare recipient in the United States. Sanders thanked the crowd for paying the wages of Wal-Mart employees, saying that the company does not pay its workers a living wage.
According to the Bernie Sanders campaign website, future stops include colleges and universities in Florida, Alabama and Virginia.