The race for the Democratic presidential nomination is heating up. The field of candidates has finally dropped down to just the two most popular people. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is battling against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for the nomination. The voting results in Iowa and New Hampshire have Sanders in the lead by a handful of delegates. The close nature of the race has started to bring out a little more aggression in both candidates. It is now becoming more common during the debates for the candidates to directly speak about the records and failings of the other person. This is leading to some uncomfortable moments.
Something that has long been talked about with Sanders is that he might have trouble appealing to African-American and minority voters. This is a problem for anyone who wants to win the Democratic primary since African-Americans make up a significant portion of the voting base. Some see the problem as being that Sanders is from a mostly white state and has had little to do in recent years with issues affecting the African-American community. Clinton has been popular with minority voters ever since she ran for and won a senate seat in New York after her husband left office.
The next big primary is in the state of South Carolina. There is a large African-American population there. Some have called it a firewall since Clinton might do better than Sanders in the state because of the minority voters. This remains to be seen. Some controversy erupted recently when civil rights icon and Georgia Representative John Lewis recent took a swipe at the credentials of Sanders. Lewis said “I never saw him. I never met him,” when talking about Sanders and the work he had done for the civil rights movement back in the 1960s. This greatly upset Sanders supporters.
There are issues with what Lewis said despite his amazing achievements as a civil rights leader. Sanders was not working in the same areas as Lewis. The only event they actually attended at the same time was the historic 1963 March on Washington. This is the event where martin Luther King Jr. presented his now famous speech about having a dream. An issue is that Lewis said he did see Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton during his travels around that time. It is unclear where or under what circumstances although he has said this before.
The work Sanders did during the 1960s largely involves the Congress on Racial Equality, or CORE, out of Brooklyn College. Sanders participated in a sit-in at the college to protest the school not renting rooms to African-American students. He eventually was put onto a board to help change that. The school tried to step back from promises to change the policy triggering Sanders to write an editorial bashing the college. Sanders was made the chairman of CORE for the university. He eventually had to leave that position because it was hurting his grades. Sanders continued to protest throughout his college career. He was even arrested at one point.
Some Sanders supporters are pushing conspiracy theories online that Hillary Clinton paid Lewis to make that statement or somehow blackmailed him. Clinton supporters are concerned that Sanders might not be able to excite minority voters during the general election. Both Sanders and Clinton have picked up endorsements from prominent African-American figures. Both seem to be doing well in South Carolina at this point. It remains to be seen what will happen. The only certain thing is that the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is sure to get more interesting as the campaigns start moving across the country.