by Jovanka Beckles
James Baldwin once wrote: “You asked my father to wait, my brother to wait, my uncle to wait. How long must I wait on freedom? How long must I wait on rights and equality and liberty?”
I, personally, am tired of waiting. As a proud Black progressive woman and former elected official, Black, poor and working people have been the center of my work. That is exactly why I support the candidate who I believe would best support and fight for Black people. That candidate for president is Sen. Bernie Sanders. He’s now the frontrunner to win the Democratic nomination and beat Trump.
Sen. Sanders is the strongest candidate to beat Trump. As Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. said this week, Bernie is leading a “Rainbow Coalition type campaign.” In polls, Bernie has the most support from Black and Brown Democratic voters and beats Trump by the highest margin of any candidate in key swing states.
In the streets, Bernie has a huge movement of volunteers and the largest army of small donors in presidential history – leading in donations from teachers, Walmart workers, young people and military members. It took a huge volunteer push to elect President Obama in 2008. This time, Bernie is the only candidate with a passionate volunteer movement that can beat Trump.
Bernie has a huge movement of volunteers and the largest army of small donors in presidential history.
Sen. Sanders’ track record of fighting for civil rights and working people has earned my trust. He was arrested in sit-ins fighting segregation in Chicago and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., when white moderate candidates stood by. Bernie is not solely focused on winning the presidency; he is focused on helping Black, Brown and working people have real power in our democracy, so our government works for us – not just the rich and powerful.
Bernie has been my candidate since 2016 because he is the only candidate who has consistently demonstrated his commitment to building a multiracial and multigenerational grassroots social justice movement over decades. Bernie is the only candidate with a platform that carries forward Dr. King’s torch: for Medicare for All, expanding Social Security, guaranteeing good union jobs for all, taxing the ultra-wealthy, ending cash bail and mass incarceration, and building nearly 10 million new affordable homes to end homelessness.
I proudly and happily join the huge coalition of Black leaders supporting Sen. Sanders, including Sen. Nina Turner, Professor Cornel West, hip-hop artists Public Enemy and Killer Mike, actor and activist Danny Glover, feminist scholar and activist Barbara Smith, civil rights attorneys Walter Riley and Pamela Price, El Cerrito City Councilmember and Nurse Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, Richmond City Councilmember Melvin Willis and too many to name.
Even more important than the big names are the millions of people who have volunteered and donated to build this movement. The words of Sen. Nina Turner resonate when she says, “Only all that we love is on the line.”
Bernie is the frontrunner to beat Trump because our multiracial movement is organizing with that passion.
The words of Sen. Nina Turner resonate when she says, “Only all that we love is on the line.” Bernie is the frontrunner to beat Trump because our multiracial movement is organizing with that passion.
I first met Sen. Sanders in 2014, when he came to Richmond, California, to support our community fighting the giant multinational corporation Chevron. Not only did he stand with us in solidarity, he gave his endorsement to me when I ran for reelection for the Richmond City Council and later the California Assembly. Bernie recognized that he and I were fighting the same fight for power and dignity for all Black, Brown and working people.
I have worked as a health care provider for decades. In my work, I witness people struggling even if they have expensive health insurance now. I share Bernie’s passion for Medicare for All. Healthcare is a human right and no one should have to endure pain and suffering because they cannot afford to pay for good care.
Who among us is not experiencing a health challenge, or knows someone close to us who is? Healthcare is a Black issue. Black people are disproportionately affected by many preventable diseases, including asthma and diabetes. In the richest country in the world, why are so many people having to ration insulin?
Bernie’s Medicare for All policy is the only plan that will ensure no copays, no deductibles and low drug costs for every one of us. In Congress, Bernie has led huge bipartisan victories for rural hospitals and veterans’ healthcare that have disproportionately helped Black people in need. It’s time to take Bernie’s winning record to the White House and finally win Medicare for All!
Bernie’s Medicare for All policy is the only plan that will ensure no copays, no deductibles and low drug costs for every one of us. In Congress, Bernie has led huge bipartisan victories for rural hospitals and veterans’ healthcare that have disproportionately helped Black people in need.
Right now, we have 45 million people, disproportionately Black people, who have crushing student loan debt. Imagine the freedom if we could send our children and grandchildren to college tuition free; no debt upon graduation! President Bernie Sanders is the only candidate fighting to cancel all student debt and win tuition free college or trade school for all. Millions of young Black people will become free to attend college, finish their degrees and become leaders to build up our communities.
Bernie Sanders is an easy choice compared to the candidates trailing behind him, Joseph Biden and Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg and Biden pushed many times to cut Social Security and Medicare; Bernie has always fought to protect and expand Social Security and Medicare. Biden vilified and insulted Professor Anita Hill; Bernie did not.
Biden and Bloomberg supported the disastrous war in Iraq; Bernie stood up to oppose it. Bloomberg and Biden pushed for racial profiling and more prisons; Bernie has always fought for civil rights and equal justice. Bloomberg has faked Black support without permission in his million-dollar television ads; Bernie has earned real Black support with integrity and a platform for justice.
We cannot wait any longer for justice. The time is now. The time is now to support the strongest candidate to beat Trump. The time is now to build power and dignity for Black, Brown and working people. Please join me in voting March 3rd and helping to elect President Bernie Sanders.
Jovanka Beckles is a former member of the Richmond City Council and former vice mayor. She works as a mental health specialist for Contra Costa County and serves on the Richmond Progressive Alliance steering committee. She was born in Panama City, where she grew up in a bilingual, multicultural household. Her family moved to the United States in1972, and she has lived in Richmond for nearly two decades. She can be reached at Jovankabeckles@gmail.com.
Watch Bernie’s huge rally in Richmond in 2014 that broke Chevron’s stranglehold: https://youtu.be/-FQ6n49AWpY