News Release

What’s Wrong With Black South Carolina Voters Not “Feeling the Bern?”


Lightning-299x450The Washington Post reports in the article, “Clinton regrets 1996 remark on ‘super-predators’ after encounter with activist,” that : “Black voters are the linchpin of Hillary Clinton’s strategy for winning the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary, and as a result, her campaign has put racial justice issues at the forefront of her agenda. But at an event on Wednesday night, Clinton was vocally confronted by an activist questioning her past support for policies that had a disproportionately negative effect on African Americans.”

KEVIN ALEXANDER GRAY, kevinagray57 at, @kevinagray
Gray is a longtime South Carolina political organizer and analyst who has worked on many political campaigns. His books include Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics. He is co-editor of the book Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence.

Gray said today: “Many are puzzling over blacks — who are typically the most progressive element in the Democratic party — backing Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

“There are a number of reasons for this and Sanders has to take responsibility for some of them. Certainly, much of the black political establishment is corrupt and has connections, including financial connections, to the Clintons. And the Clintons have backed a lot policies that have done real damage to the black community.

“In part it’s about sticking with the devil you know. Many blacks surrendered any kind of political voice they have during the Obama years and feel like it’s Hillary’s turn. And the Clintons have delivered some things: The last public housing in the south was built in the late 90s.

“Sanders has been in Congress for 30 years, but hasn’t developed meaningful relationships with many black elected officials. The way he’s approached South Carolina is largely to bring in outside black, northern intellectuals who are all men. And Killer Mike — a rapper. Women are 60 percent of the black electorate here. He has events at the colleges. This isn’t a serious bottom up strategy to get to where people in the community really are.

“He talks about his campaign being a ‘revolution.’ No. Cuba had a revolution. Haiti had a revolution. He’s not succeeding at building a lasting movement and he’s not even succeeding at retail politics or having the right optics — Clinton is.

“He certainly isn’t bringing people of diverse backgrounds together like Jesse Jackson did with the Rainbow Coalition. It’s a campaign run by some white guys in DC with some Black Lives Matter talking points as soundbites thrown in. That’s not going to cut it.

“Black folks might like some of what he says about Wall Street and tuition-free public colleges, but it’s clear he’s not really thinking about the HBCU [historically black colleges and universities] — black folks are at best an afterthought. Same with critical issues like gerrymandering and the voting rights act.

“Sanders cites Martin Luther King, but King said a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. How can we believe that Sanders is really a man of principle when he — nor anyone else — says a critical word about Israel when it’s thrusting an apartheid system on the Palestinians?

“I certainly won’t vote for Clinton, but Sanders isn’t really doing what he needs to do. We need real movements that are built not just in election cycles and not people looking to be great new leader, getting more TV time.”

See Gray’s writings at Counterpunch and at the Progressive.