Sanders courts U.S. black vote after coasting to New Hampshire win

U.S. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders meets with civil rights activist Al Sharpton in Harlem.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (FEBRUARY 10, 2016) (REUTERS) – U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders courted the African-American vote on Wednesday (February 10) after thrashing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary election and giving his anti-establishment campaign a major lift.

Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton met Sanders, a democratic socialist and U.S. senator from Vermont, for breakfast at a restaurant in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood.

It was an attempt to chip away at Clinton’s strong support from African-American voters, who will be crucial at the next Democratic primary, in South Carolina on Feb. 27.

The two men hugged when they met outside Sylvia’s soul food restaurant then sat alone for breakfast at a table near the window. They left about 20 minutes later.

Outside the restaurant, Harlem residents watched the scene.

“I’m so excited because Bernie was here and Al Sharpton was here and having them in this community means a lot,” said Harlem resident Payden Baxter. “It makes me feel like (Sanders) is really going to do a lot for us and that he is going to help us and that he cares for us and he cares for our community.”

Sian Duprey, also a Harlem resident, said, “I like Bernie because he believes that everyone deserves health care. He believes that everyone deserves education and he believes that we shouldn’t have a corrupt system. We shouldn’t have a corrupt economy. And that is something that I truly believe in. I was a student. I am still paying back student loans and it’s really difficult. It affects your life for years. So that to me is something very important.”

“He’s just so real. It’s absolute truth. He’s very believable,” said Taheeb.

Pat Miller, also a Harlem resident said, “He’s fighting for us and that’s what I like about Bernie Sanders.” Miller, said he is originally from Australia, but has lived in Harlem since the 1980s. He added, “I think it’s important for him to get his voice out to the African-American vote, definitely, and the Latinos as well. If Al Sharpton really cares about what’s good for his people in general as a whole, he will support Bernie Sanders. If he’s just interested in politics and the political connections, then he’ll stay with Hillary Clinton.”

Sharpton and Barack Obama met at the same restaurant during the then-candidate’s 2008 successful presidential campaign – a piece of symbolism for Sanders as he tries to connect with minority voters. The election on Nov. 8 is followed by the inauguration of Obama’s successor early next year.

“My concern is that in January of next year for the first time in American history a black family will be moving out of the White House. I do not want black concerns to be moved out with them. We must be front and center and not marginalized. And Senator Sanders coming here this morning further makes it clear that we will not be ignored,” Sharpton, a Baptist minister and television talk show host, told reporters afterwards.

The next nominating contests will be held in Nevada and South Carolina.

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