Bernie Sanders stole the show at the Democratic Party presidential debate last night with his ability to frame marijuana prohibition in the context of racial injustice and inequality in America. Speaking in South Carolina at the debate hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, Sanders railed against jailing people for smoking pot, high unemployment amongst African-Americans, and CEOs who weren't jailed for wreaking havoc in the U.S. economy - all in the same extended answer to a question posed about systemic racism in the criminal justice system:
We have a criminal justice system that is broken. Who in America is satisfied that we have more people in jail than any country on earth, including China - disproportionately African-American and Latino. Who is satisfied that 51 percent of African-American young people are either unemployed or under-employed? Who is satisfied that millions of people have police records for possessing marijuana when the CEOs of Wall Street companies who destroyed our economy have no police records? We need to take a very hard look at our criminal justice system, investing in jobs and education - not in jails and incarceration.
Because you can't fully reflect Bernie's passionate intensity in print, here's the video clip of that moment in the debate:
Even though he continues to make sustained and impassioned pleas for African-Americans on these issues, he still trails Hillary Clinton in national polls for support amongst Black voters.
In response to a direct question about this relative lack of support, Sanders said he is doing well against Clinton in polls of prospective voters in Iowa and New Hampshire - and support from Black Americans is not far behind.
"When the African-American community becomes familiar with my congressional record and with our views on economy and criminal justice - just as the general public has become more supportive, so will the African-American community, so will the Latino community."
h/t The Hill