Predicting ‘real fight for the Black vote’

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former NAACP President Ben Jealous

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former NAACP President Ben Jealous

(TriceEdneyWire.com) — Former NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous has announced his endorsement of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in his quest for the Democratic nomination for president.

The endorsement from Jealous, a civil rights activist with a record of strong political activism, could continue to fuel the surprise shake up in the Democratic contest, largely because of Jealous’ influence with the Black vote. At one time, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was thought to be a shoe-in for the nomination. But after her razor-thin win in Iowa, largely with the help of the Black vote, there is rising belief that Sanders could actually become the nominee.

“You’ll see a real fight for the Black vote and quite frankly, that’s the best thing for our community. The best thing for our community is for voters to really look at the records of each of these folks and to ask tough questions of the surrogates and of the candidates,” Jealous said in an interview with the Trice Edney News Wire. “There’s a lot of folks who’ve been suggesting that the Clintons should take our vote for granted. But our candidate will have the final word on whether or not they’re able to take it for granted or whether they will be forced to compete. I think you’re going to see people across the country force them to have to compete for our vote. No Black voter in the 21st Century wants to feel like their vote is taken for granted.”

Jealous applauded Sanders’ 100% NAACP Legislative Report card record while describing the record of Clinton, also a former U. S. senator, as “complex.” Though Clinton also received straight ‘As’ on the NAACP Legislative Report Card as a member of the U. S. Senate, Jealous said she fell short in key areas of importance to African-Americans.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave us a matrix for judging the agenda of leaders–racism, militarism and greed. Bernie Sanders record on each of those is clear. His opposition to them, his history of fighting against them is clear. Hillary Clinton’s record on each of those is complex and also contradictory,” Jealous said in an interview with the Trice Edney News Wire.

Jealous detailed how Clinton, on one hand, built the Children’s Defense Fund; but on the other hand, “championed the super predator theory which said that a child at age six months could be a sociopath beyond redemption. And it’s only used to explain the actions of young Black men.”

On militarism, he said Clinton “opposed the war in Vietnam, but voted for the war in Iraq,” a vote that Clinton recently conceded was a “mistake” only based on information President Bush had given at the time.

As for greed, Jealous concluded: “I don’t think anybody can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that they believe Hillary Clinton did everything she possibly can to reign in our banks and to make sure that they do not send us whirling into another recession down the road.”

Jealous said Sanders has a stellar civil rights and economic justice record.

“From his days of going to jail with the Congress of Racial Equality to speed up the integration of housing in Chicago to supporting Jesse Jackson’s campaign for president in 1988, he is the only candidate that has a comprehensive racial justice platform today. He’s been extremely consistent.

Militarism: he opposed the war in Vietnam, he voted against the war in Iraq. And on greed, well, quite frankly there is no one that the greediest leaders of the greediest banks fear becoming president more than Bernie Sanders,” Jealous said. “So I think at the end of the day I think the key difference is him being consistent and having the courage of his convictions.”

The Clinton campaign did not respond when asked by e-mail for comment on the Jealous endorsement.

However, Clinton maintains a large share of Black support. They include former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

“She is the most qualified candidate, ready from day one to lead this nation, but also make sure that we’re save internationally and on the streets of America,” Nutter told a church congregation, according to media reports. He also told News Channel 6 in Philadelphia, “Lawyer out of Yale.Didn’t go to the big law firm…She went to the Children’s Defense Fund. She’s been focused on children and families all of her career.Excellent service as First Lady in Arkansas.Excellent service as First Lady to President Bill Clinton and then a United States Senator in her own right.”

Jealous, who is a venture partner with the Oakland, Calif.-based Kapor Center for Social Impact, is also co-leader of a Political Action Committee called the Southern Elections Fund. However, he said money from that PAC is on reserve for the general election, not for the primaries. “It will support whoever the eventual nominee is,” he said.

Acknowledging Clinton’s widespread support in the Black community, Jealous said: “She’s at her high water mark. She’s actually had so much of it that she can only lose it and Bernie Sanders can only gain it.”