April 4th, 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr and democratic Senator Bernie Sanders rallied a crowd in Jackson, Mississippi as he spoke on King’s legacy the audience cheered until Sanders changed the topic from King to politics, specifically the relationship between the success of the democratic party, Barack Obama and black voters.
Senator Sanders expressed his views on how he feels that the democrats have failed despite Obama’s election to the highest office in 2008 and 2012. An article that was published about Sanders speech in Mississippi on Buzzfeed.com explains how Sanders struggled with the black vote with his own presidential campaign in 2016 and specifically was not supported by black voters in Mississippi which is among the highest population of registered black voters in the country.
The silence was sparked by Sanders pointing out that even though Obama was a very charismatic and qualified candidate, overall the democrats have lost over one thousand seats in state legislation throughout the country. His points may have been misinterpreted by the mostly black crowd that was there to celebrate the life and memory of MLK. Sanders has been criticized in the past for his inability to connect with black voters and his attempt to discuss these issues at a venue created to recognize the legacy of MLK may have reinforced that criticism.
All though the Senator may have been trying to praise the significance of Obama’s 2 term presidency and how impressive it actually was despite all of the other losses the party has experienced over the same time period. Critics of Sanders however considered the statements, timing of the statements and the venue in which they were made may have turned the black voters off to him even more and certainly did not help him gain any progress with voters of color.