U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders met Thursday at the National Urban League offices with leaders of nine historic civil rights organizations.
Sanders congratulated the organizations for their work on what he called “profound issues” confronting the country.
He spoke about the importance of courts in protecting minority rights and said he would press for Senate confirmation of a nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Senate Republicans have signaled that they would stall confirmation of a new justice until after a new president is sworn into office next January. “The idea that Republican obstructionism, unprecedented in American history would continue on this important issue, is incomprehensible to me,” Sanders said.
On voting rights, Sanders decried voter suppression efforts designed to make it more difficult for minorities and others to go to the polls on Election Day. “The idea that we have governors and legislatures trying to suppress the vote and make it harder for people to participate in the democratic process is, to me, vulgar,” Sanders said.
Sanders also discussed economic issues that affect millions of Americans but added, “I understand that the African-American community has been harder hit than any other community in America.”
Marc H. Morial, the National Urban League president and CEO, convened the meeting by saying that income and wealth inequality, a signature issue in Sanders’ White House campaign, affected African-Americans more than any sector in American society. Long-fought gains by blacks in employment and home ownership were wiped out by the Great Recession and many African-Americans, he said.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network, sat at Sanders’ side during the meeting.
Other participants in a round-table discussion with Sanders included Cornell Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP; Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation; Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Benjamin L. Crump, president of the National Bar Association; and Janice Mathis, executive director of the National Council of Negro Women.
Danny Glover, the actor and civil rights activist, joined Sanders at the session.
To read Danny Glover’s op-ed endorsing Sen. Sanders click here.