Nell Frizzell | Contributing Writer | Monday, 10 August 2015

Two Women Might Just Have Made A Politician Change His Mind

Two Women Might Just Have Made A Politician Change His Mind

The Debrief: Bernie Saunders has added a Racial Justice section to his website following a number of protests by Black Lives Matter and their supporters.

Politicians aren’t known for their audience interaction. Nor are they exactly celebrated for embracing a change of direction (as if not turning is admirable, even if the direction you’re travelling in is fatal).

So it is surprising that US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (he's going up against Hillary Clinton for the Democrat role) has added a Racial Justice tab to his website after being interrupted at a number of events by #BlackLivesMatter protestors. The cause and effect of these two events may not be quite that simple – according to website The Stranger, Sanders' communication director Michael Briggs has said that the section 'was already in the works,' and 'consists mostly of information already on the website from a speech last month to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.'

However, we do know that at a social security rally yesterday in Seattle, two young women - Marissa Johnson and Mara Willaford - took to the stage to call for a four-and-a-half minute silence in honor of Michael Brown. Although there is some debate on Twitter over whether these women were members of Black Lives Matter they were wearing #BlackLivesMatter T-shirts and are said to have spoken out against the ‘white supremacist liberalism’ of Seattle.

Black Lives Matter describes itself as ‘a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates [American] society’ and was created in 2012 after the death of Trayvon Martin. A number of #BlackLivesMatter protestors had already interrupted Bernie Sanders’ speech at a Netroots Nation conference in July.

The Racial Justice section of Bernie Sanders’ website opens with the statement that ‘We must pursue policies that transform this country into a nation that affirms the value of its people of color. That starts with addressing the four central types of violence waged against black and brown Americans: physical, political, legal and economic.’

Sanders also released a statement on his website, following the interrupted rally in Seattle, that reads:

'I am disappointed that two people disrupted a rally attended by thousands at which I was invited to speak about fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare. I was especially disappointed because on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no other candidate for president who will fight harder than me.'

Like this? You may also be interested in:

Black Lives Matter Protest In US After Man Dies In Police Custody

Why The Great British Bake Off Needs Its People of Colour

Meet The Black Women Fighting In Today's Civil Rights Movement

Follow Nell on Twitter @nellfrizzell

Picture: Press Association 

Tags: Politics, Only In America, Race, USA, US Election 2016