Black America Forum w/ Sen. Bernie Sanders

Minneapolis, MN – Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders joined Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) in a historic forum on Black issues called the Black America Forum on Friday, February 12, 2016.

The forum took place at Patrick Henry High School in North Minneapolis, a historically and predominately Black school and community. The forum was focused on the historic and current issues facing Black communities and other communities of color and was an opportunity, as Anthony Newby stated, for “real folks” to have a discussion with a presidential candidate about issues that affect them.

Unicorn Riot was present to livestream this event.

The doors opened at 3pm and hundreds of people withstood the frigid temps to gain entrance:

High energy was felt throughout the beginning of the night with the drums from drill teams and chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice for Jamar” ringing through the gymnasium:

The #BlackForumMN was hosted and moderated by NOC President Anthony Newby. Representative Keith Ellison gave a speech introducing Bernie Sanders, who proceeded to speak for a dozen or so minutes on issues ranging from tuition-free higher education, to the “right” of health care, and the “broken” criminal justice system.

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The Community Forum portion of the night included moderator Anthony Newby and panelists; Roderick Adams, Ngeri Azuewah, Ann Haines, Felicia Perry, and Devon Nolan. Each of the panelists (pictured below) had a well-crafted question for Bernie Sanders. They were given time to pose the question to the Presidential candidate and he was then providing answers to how he would tackle the issues being raised in the questions.

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Others from the community were able to chime in as well, including Jason Sole and Mica Grimm (pictured below), who spoke from the crowd asking Senator Sanders what he is willing to do to help those “disenfranchised” from voting for having a criminal record and also what Sen. Sanders thoughts on reparations were, as Mica brought up the fact that reparations were handed out in Germany to the Jewish people but Blacks in America are still waiting on “promised” reparations.

Jason Sole
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Mica Grimm

The questions from the panel as well as the crowd were answered with repetitive campaign rhetoric. When asked about the perception she had of Sanders’ answers, panelist Felicia Perry told Danyale from Unicorn Riot, “like all politicians, he will answer a question without necessarily answering it.”

The community continually grew uneasy at Bernie’s answers. Many shouted for him to be more specific about how he’s going to carry out his campaign promises.

Noticing the communities unrest, and on a time limitation because of a scheduled DFL fundraising dinner with his opponent Hillary Clinton in St. Paul, Sanders stood up from his panel seat without allowing the moderator to close out the event. This is when legendary co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM), Clyde Bellecourt (pictured below), pressed hard on Bernie Sanders to speak to the issue of Treaty Rights and the attempted genocide of indigenous people.

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Sanders briskly replied to Mr. Bellecourt’s question before escaping into the curtains and heading off to that DFL fundraiser with Hillary Clinton. This is what he said:

C. Bellecourt: “Are you going to honor the treaties?”

B. Sanders: “The Native American people have gotten a terrible deal from the federal government. I will do everything I can to address that.”

Here is a video of the confrontation between Clyde Bellecourt and Bernie Sanders:

Without giving a definite answer about Treaty Rights, Senator Sanders dropped the mic in front of Anthony Newby and promptly walked off stage, in what some audience members say they felt was inappropriate.

Even so, the fact that a Presidential candidate was at this event, made it historic. As you see with this reaction:

Here is the stream of the Community Forum:

After the forum, Unicorn Riot’s Danyale interviewed participants from the night, including panelist Felicia Perry, NOC’s Operation’s Director Me’Lea Connelly & NOC’s President Anthony Newby. Here are the interviews:

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