It’s All About the Benjamins, Baby: Jealous Endorses Sanders, While Crump Backs Clinton

As the state primaries heat up, many prominent African Americans are going on divergent paths.

Bernie Sanders and Benjamin Jealous at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H., on Feb. 5, 2016. 
Bernie Sanders and Benjamin Jealous at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H., on Feb. 5, 2016.  Hilary Hess/Exclusive to The Root

Two major African-American activists made their presidential endorsements known Friday as former NAACP head Benjamin Jealous released a statement sanctioning Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. On the same day, civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump threw his support behind Sanders’ rival in the race, Hillary Clinton.

Jealous, who went to New Hampshire on Friday to stump for Sanders, released his remarks on Sanders’ website. In an item entitled “I Endorse Bernie Sanders for President,” Jealous began by noting that his white grandparents were, in fact, from New Hampshire. He also stated that Sanders has an “A+ rating from the NAACP.”

“Throughout his life he has been a fearless, tireless and trustworthy champion for the right of all our nation’s children to have full and unfettered access to the American dream,” Jealous said. “Bernie Sanders has the courage to confront the institutionalized racism and bias that stains our nation. Bernie Sanders leads with the sort of freedom-minded conviction that strikes fear in the military industrial complex, the prison industrial complex, and the worst of Wall Street.”

Further, Jealous invoked Martin Luther King Jr. when he said, “I recall the words of the late great Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that ‘a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.’ And that is why I am here today. Bernie Sanders has been principled, courageous, and consistent in fighting the evils that Dr. King referred to as the ‘giant triplets’ of racism, militarism, and greed … ”

Meanwhile, BuzzFeed reports that Benjamin Crump, the lawyer who represented the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown families, will hit the Palmetto State and stump for Hillary Clinton before the Feb. 27 primary.

“Crump will talk to South Carolina voters about what’s at stake in this election and Hillary Clinton’s strong record of fighting for families,” a Clinton aide said to the outlet. “He will highlight how Clinton is the only one who will stand up to the gun lobby, has a plan to reform our criminal-justice system and understands the issues that keep families up at night.”

Down by nearly 31 points just months ago, Sanders is steadily gaining on Clinton, and nationally the two are in a virtual dead heat.

Clinton, who many say had the “black vote” sewn up, may not be so certain of that anymore. 

Prominent activists such as actor Danny Glover have come out in support of Sanders, and last week Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, released a scathing Facebook post highlighting Clinton’s complicity in this country’s mass-incarceration travesty when her husband, Bill Clinton, was in office. 

If anyone doubts that the mainstream media fails to tell the truth about our political system (and its true winners and losers), the spectacle of large majorities of black folks supporting Hillary Clinton in the primary races ought to be proof enough. I can’t believe Hillary would be coasting into the primaries with her current margin of black support if most people knew how much damage the Clintons have done—the millions of families that were destroyed the last time they were in the White House thanks to their boastful embrace of the mass incarceration machine and their total capitulation to the right-wing narrative on race, crime, welfare and taxes. There’s so much more to say on this topic and it’s a shame that more people aren’t saying it. I think it’s time we have that conversation.