When Bernie Sanders held that nationwide live stream event, my community center, the American Indian Center of Chicago (AIC), was asked by the Sanders campaign to be one of the meeting places for his event.
We had about 150 people for the event — filling up the largest room in the building! Natives and non-Natives during the 20-minute countdown expressed reasons why they were interested in Sanders. They spoke of “higher wages for the working class,” and ” taxing the rich.” Some spoke of how mainstream media isn’t talking about Bernie enough and when they do it isn’t very informative about his politics. While all this was being said, I was happy to notice the range in age and race of those in attendance. And there was a high level of enthusiasm from people signing up to volunteer and make donations to the campaign — some of the strongest I have seen.
The countdown ended and Bernie Sanders walked out, wasting no time with boring opening statements. He opened his speech strong and coined a new hashtags for the night: #EnoughIsEnough. He talked about how too many people are living in poverty. Bernie said ” We cannot continue to maintain a starvation minimum wage.” Bernie continued to talk about how every person should receive healthcare, paid time off, maternity leave, and free education.
I think one of the moments that stood out the most and got the most applause and adoration from the group was when he spoke of police brutality. Sanders said, ” We’re tired of seeing black people yanked to the ground and assaulted …We have to combat institutionalized racism in the U.S.” Bernie ended this statement with a bold #EnoughIsEnough.
Bernie went on to talk about the need for a new “political revolution” and “strong grassroots organizing.” At the end of program, the Sanders campaign asked viewers to send out a mass text message with the word WORK to sign up to volunteer.
I hope that the level of enthusiasm continues and grows in new and unexpected ways. I’m hoping that at some point during this election season Native Americans are going to be able to directly ask questions of the presidential candidates. I want to know how Bernie Sanders is going to address the issues facing Natives. If his campaign can keep up this energy around Bernie, I feel that he might have a real chance to win this.
Photo: Bernie Sanders Facebook page