BLACK VOICES
02/17/2016 04:29 pm ET Updated Jan 04, 2017

CBC PAC Chairman Says Bernie Sanders' Socialism Can't 'Eradicate Racism'

"We just believe that Sen. Clinton has been there for a longer period of time, has been dedicated and focused on the issues that are most important to us," he said.

In a move that could be crucial in the fight for the black vote, the political arm of the Congressional Black Caucus last week endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. CBC PAC chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) joined HuffPost Live and explained why the organization chose to back Clinton over her challenger Bernie Sanders.

Meeks told HuffPost Live’s Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani that most CBC members have a “longstanding relationship” with Clinton, and he praised her dedication to civil rights. Meeks added that Sanders’ socialist platform wouldn’t adequately target issues of race.

“He has been a leader and a fighter for the socialist party and socialism. That’s who he’s been and he’s true to his word in that regard,” he said. “But socialism and/or dealing with class does not mean … that you can eradicate racism.”

Meeks also questioned Sanders’ past civil rights involvement, which became a huge story after his run-in with Black Lives Matter activists this summer and bubbled up again when an old picture of Sanders speaking before a civil rights rally surfaced. It received renewed attention when civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) said he “never saw” Sanders while working for the movement. 

“Though we appreciate the fact and recognize the fact that he might have participated in some of the civil rights movement of the ‘60s, he had never really been a part of or involved in many of the civil rights and or racial issues that we’ve had to deal with throughout our tenure,” Meeks said.

While Clinton has come under fire for her previous support for her husband’s tough-on-crime approach, which increased incarceration rates for black Americans in particular, Meeks maintained that Clinton is the best choice for president. A statement from the CBC PAC touted Clinton’s work to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, vote to raise the minimum wage and support to ban racial profiling as reasons for the endorsement. 

“We just believe that Sen. Clinton has been there for a longer period of time, has been dedicated and focused on the issues that are most important to us,” he said.

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation with CBC PAC chairman Gregory Meeks here

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