Bernie Sanders on Peachtree Street
There was a chill in the air. Musicians gathered to play their instruments for change. A black entrepreneur hawked Bernie Sanders Tee Shirts and caps. The Communist Revolutionary Party begged for donations to fight abusive police conduct. Another group of activists passed out literature which asked people to remember the one year anniversary of Tamir Rice’s death.
Seemingly, the chill did not matter to the long line of people. They were waiting to hear from Bernie Sanders. Their collective energy lit up Atlanta, Georgia last night. There was electricity in the air. His supporters kept warm from “The Bern,” Sanders’ candidacy is producing.
The Vermont Yankee who dubs his philosophy as Democratic Socialism brought his bid for the presidency to Atlanta’s Fox Theater, a 1928 Shriners mosque that seats 6,678 people. The Fox, although built by Shriners, did not opened for business, as a Shrine, but as a movie theater on Christmas day in 1929 with the premiere of Steamboat Willie, Walt Disney’s first Mickey Mouse movie.
Like Mickey Mouse, Sanders debuted in Atlanta to a packed house. There was not a single empty seat left after the crowd which had started forming around 4:00 p. m. for the 7:00 p. m. campaign rally. The line looped around several city blocks. Some were turned away once the sitting capacity had been reached.
Additionally, there were several hundred volunteers assembled on the stage behind the podium where Sanders spoke after he was introduced by the rapper, Killer Mike. One senior gentlemen in the group behind the podium fainted during Sanders’ speech. A volunteer quickly administered CPR and revived the man. Sanders quipped afterward, “I did not realize my auditory was powerful.” The man walked off the stage under his own power.
Killer Mike, a native of Atlanta invoked the name of Martin Luther King, Jr., but quickly told the crowd that he was talking about the “Post March on Washington King. I’m talking about a revolutionary.”
Mike said, “I have no desire to see us elect our own version of Margaret Thatcher. I’m not here to see a rerun of the Reagan years.”
“Bernie Sanders,” Mike said, “is the right man to run this country.”
Sanders came out to a standing ovation. He began by preaching Martin Luther King, Jr., to his audience. He preached the 1967-1968 King. Then he urged his followers to do all they can to help carry on the work of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Social Change.
Paul, a 24 year old student at North Georgia College drove down with four other friends from Gainesville, Georgia to hear Sanders. Paul said what he liked about Sanders is “I like the fact that I do not have to compete with Exxon for his vote.”
Paul echoed a Sander’s theme. Sanders told his supporters that “The campaign finance system is corrupt. I am proud to tell you I do not have a Super PAC and I do not want a Super PAC.”
Sanders said that his litmus test for anyone he considers for a position on the Supreme Court is their willingness to overturn Citizen’s United, the Supreme Court case, which defined corporations as people and opened the floodgates to unlimited campaign contributions.
His campaign platform is straight out of the turbulent 1960s, the days of Camelot, when the world was on the verge of giving “the people what they want.”
This phraseology is from a popular refrain of an O’Jays tune played over the loudspeaker prior to Sanders’ speech. What the people wanted back then as defined by Dr. King was an end to the three evils of American democracy: “War, poverty and racism.”
Then Nixon rolled into The District of Columbia, leaving a fragile democratic government on the brink of falling apart. Nixon was followed by Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter, neither of whom had a public consensus for revolutionary change as the Kennedys’- John and Bobby – had for much of the 1960s.
They were followed by Reagan whose regime was liken by conservatives as a revolution, when in actuality, Reagan stopped the revolution for social and economic change.
The so called “Reagan Revolution” freed George Herbert Walker Bush to dally in regime change. His dalliance is a major contributor to today’s world being less safe than anytime since the white supremacist, Adolf Hitler, was stopped in 1945.
Reagan’s tenure made it difficult for young black men to find gainful employment. His henchmen introduced drugs into black communities which created a wave of violence and deterioration of those neighborhoods. Enter Bill Clinton and his wave of throwing black drug dealers and those caught with it in their possession into the dungeons of America and essentially throwing away the keys. Now, Clinton’s wife, Hillary is vying to become the first woman president. She is largely popular with black women, but not well like by young and middle aged black men who know too well the sting of a Clinton presidency.
While national politics were blowing in the wind, Sanders was governing his state with his democratic socialist ideas and later moved to congress where he continued arguing for his progressive ideas to redirect the wealth of America. Last night Sanders said, “If a corporation is too big to fail, it should not be too big to go to jail.”
Sanders said he recently introduced legislation in congress that would remove Marijuana from the federal list of control substances. “I am not advocating for the use of marijuana,” he said, “I am tired of young people having their records marred by a marijuana conviction.
One by one, Sanders called out the names of black boys, men and women killed by police officers in this country within the last 24 months. He said that police officers should be accountable for the wrong they do.
Unlike Hillary Clinton’s visit to Atlanta earlier this month, no one from the Black Lives Matter Movement attempted to interrupt Sander’s speech. There were no public demonstrations of any kind.
The south is feeling “the Bern” for social and economic justice.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.