Young Blacks Reject Older Generation’s Support of Clintons

Hillary Clinton stands with Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of Sandra Bland, during a campaign event in Chicago. (Joshua Lott/for The Washington Post)
Hillary Clinton stands with Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of Sandra Bland, during a campaign event in Chicago. (Joshua Lott/for The Washington Post)

The Rev. Ira Acree stood before a group of 400 mostly older African American women who had come to hear Hillary Clinton speak, but he had a message for the younger generation about Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

“Bernie Sanders has made an unequivocal statement against reparations. He’s saying he, under no conditions, will support reparations,” the West Side Chicago pastor said. “He said that, and we want all the young African Americans who are for some reason supporting him to know where he stands on that issue.”

Acree did not mention that Clinton also opposes reparations.

In recent days, Clinton has courted African American voters intensely, in the hope that they will remain loyal to her in primaries in late February and March.

She has secured the endorsements of women she describes as “mothers of the movement,” whose children were the victims of violence. Geneva Reed-Veal, whose daughter, Sandra Bland, was found dead in a Texas jail cell after being pulled over for a routine traffic violation, introduced Clinton on Wednesday in a ballroom on the South Side of Chicago. The mothers of African American men such as Eric Garner, Dontre Hamilton and Jordan Davis have also come on board to campaign for Clinton in South Carolina.

“I think we owe it to them,” Clinton said. “We owe it to them to reform police practices, to ensure that no other young woman like Sandra Bland is ever pulled out of the car for no reason and put into a jail where she is found dead.”

In courting black voters, Clinton has in large part employed a classic political strategy: enlisting the support of African American clergy and local political leaders to make the case for her candidacy. She has locked down dozens of prominent endorsers, including civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis and the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee. And on Tuesday, before delivering a sweeping speech on race in New York City, she met with black civil rights leaders including Al Sharpton and Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League.

Yet the Black Lives Matter movement, which has pushed the issue of race and policing to the forefront of the political agenda in the Democratic primary, has accelerated a generational divide, calling into question the civil rights-era model of movement leaders speaking for African Americans at large.

“I do not believe that anyone who is a part of the black political elite class speaks for anyone but themselves,” said Charlene Carruthers, 30, the national director of the Chicago-based civil rights organization Black Youth Project 100. “That’s one of the biggest flaws in how candidates engage black people: They seek out representatives for all black folks, when in fact no one represents us but us.”

That divide has created a challenge for both Clinton and Sanders — to court the support of well-known leaders from an earlier era in American history and expect younger African American voters to follow.

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SOURCE: Abby Phillip 
The Washington Post