Here’s What Bernie Sanders Actually Did in the Civil Rights Movement – —By Tim Murphy | Thu Feb. 11, 2016 4:49 PM EST

Tiffany von Arnim/Flickr

Civil rights icon John Lewis told reporters that he never encountered Bernie Sanders when the Vermont senator was working with Lewis’ Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s. Because he made his remarks at a press conference announcing the Congressional Black Caucus PAC’s endorsement of Sanders’ opponent, Hillary Clinton, Lewis’ comments can be seen as a mild dig at Sanders. (In the same breath he said he had met Bill and Hillary Clinton.)

But it’s also undoubtedly true.

The Georgia congressman was a titan of the civil rights movement. A participant in the Freedom Rides organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), he went on to lead the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and still bears the scars he received at Selma. Sanders’ involvement was, by comparison, brief and localized, his sacrifices limited to one arrest for protesting and a bad GPA from neglecting his studies. But Sanders was, in his own right, an active participant in the movement during his three years at the University of Chicago.

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Democrats’ 2016 Candidates Jostle for Black Vote – By Colleen McCain Nelson and  Peter Nicholas Sept. 20, 2015 7:28 p.m. ET

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaigns try to secure a key constituency

Hillary Clinton shown attending a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation awards dinner in Washington on Saturday night.

Hillary Clinton shown attending a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation awards dinner in Washington on Saturday night. Photo: Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C.—Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders are locked in an intense competition for African-American voters, among the most reliable in the Democratic Party.

Their presidential primary campaigns are canvassing black neighborhoods and aligning themselves with marquee names in the community.

Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden, who is mulling a late entry into the race, has begun making quiet overtures to black leaders, including a Saturday appearance at a prayer breakfast hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus.

Mr. Biden posed for photos, shook hands and was called a “longtime Congressional Black Caucus friend” by the caucus chairman, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D., N.C.). The audience gave Mr. Biden a standing ovation.

In 2016, black voters are expected to account for about one-fifth of the Democratic primary electorate, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News polling analysis. Their support is particularly important in South Carolina, an early primary state where blacks account for about half of the Democratic primary electorate.

Mrs. Clinton’s numbers are dropping in Iowa and New Hampshire, leading some to suggest that she may need South Carolina to reboot her campaign. Polls show her with a commanding lead among black voters overall.

Mrs. Clinton, a former first lady, senator and secretary of state, sat at a front-row table at the black caucus foundation’s awards dinner Saturday night. She smiled as the keynote speaker, President Barack Obama, singled her out with a quip about how she could surely sympathize with first lady Michelle Obama’s lament to him: “How come you get paid and I don’t?”

Earlier in the day, Mrs. Clinton hosted a private reception for members of the black caucus, which includes 46 lawmakers.

But the prospect of Mr. Biden’s jumping into the race could scramble the equation. He has spent years building relationships in South Carolina, and people close to the vice president say they view the state as a winnable primary.


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Steve Scalise still mending fences – By Lauren French and Anna Palmer 2/17/15 5:34 AM EST Updated 2/17/15 5:34 AM EST

The House GOP whip is meeting with black lawmakers and others who were offended by his 2002 speech to a white supremacist group.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., leaves the chamber after the House voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The Republican-controlled House voted along party lines to repeal the health care law that stands as President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement, but this time the bill carried instructions for several committees to replace

Steve Scalise is on a non-apology apology tour.

Seven weeks after coming under fire for giving a 2002 speech to a group associated with white supremacists, the House’s No. 3 Republican is meeting with key members of the Congressional Black Caucus, conferring with civil rights leaders and trying to forge relationship with reporters — though it’s unclear if that will be enough to fix what could have been potentially career-ending damage.

One of the people he’s met with, CBC Chairman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, expressed frustration that the Louisiana Republican hasn’t committed to attending next month’s 50th anniversary of the civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama.

Scalise allies insist he is not mounting a formal mea culpa. He expressed regret after the scandal initially broke in late December, but now allies say the House majority whip is just working to build new bonds on Capitol Hill and granting meetings with those who ask.

The people he’s sat down with include black lawmakers who were deeply offended by the revelation that as a state legislator he had given the speech to a conference associated with former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. That was followed by last month’s news that in 1996 Scalise had also opposed a state legislative resolution apologizing for slavery.

Butterfield, a Democratic House member from North Carolina, said last weekthat Scalise is “going to have to determine how to repair the damage that’s been done.”

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Blacks to Thad Cochran: You owe us – By ANNA PALMER and LAUREN FRENCH | 6/29/14 5:22 PM EDT

Thad Cochran is pictured. | Getty

Cochran asked for a favor and now his new supporters are plotting how to cash it in. | Getty


Thad Cochran won a primary runoff by turning out the black vote. Now they are asking — what are you going to do for us?

Already the members of the Congressional Black Caucus are talking about what they want Cochran to do. The wish list is fulling up with ideas like maintaining funding for food stamps, beefing up programs that help poor blacks in Mississippi and even supporting the Voting Rights Act.

“Absolutely we have expectations,’’ Rep Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), said in an interview.

(Also on POLITICO: Dems’ best shot in Mississippi)

And while Cochran beat back a tea party challenger by reminding voters, particularly black voters, that he brings home the federal bucks, the policy asks are far more liberal than much of what the moderate Republican has championed in his four decades in office.

But that’s the Washington game. Cochran asked for a favor and now his new supporters are plotting how to cash it in.

“My hat is off to Sen. Cochran for being as desperate as he was, to actually go out and up front got out and ask for those votes,” said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.). ” Those votes were delivered and I’m hopeful he will be responsible and responsive to the voters that pushed him over the top.”

(Also on POLITICO: McDaniel digs in)

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) agreed that Cochran has an opportunity to support the black community.

“What I hope happens is that he comes to the realization that African Americans are the reason I have this final six years and therefore I’m going to try and be more responsible than I have been,” Cleaver said.

Their sentiment was echoed around the capitol and in Mississippi following Cochran’s win over tea party favorite Chris McDaniel, fueled by surge in black voters in the Mississippi Delta. Turnout increased overall in Mississippi for the runoff, but counties that are majority black like Jefferson County saw voters came to the polls in record numbers.

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