THE BLOG
02/12/2016 09:41 am ET Updated Feb 12, 2017

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Harry Belafonte, Cornel West, Danny Glover, and Ben Jealous Are Voting for Bernie Sanders

TASOS KATOPODIS via Getty Images

Hillary Clinton's campaign expects a "firewall" based on African American support to defeat Bernie Sanders in Southern states. Clinton supporters and numerous political pundits have gleefully cited poll numbers among non-white Democrats, viewing these statistics to remain static, and ignoring a Washington Post piece titled Hillary Clinton's national lead is slipping faster in 2016 than it did in 2008.

While Clinton currently holds a polling lead over Bernie Sanders, has she earned this support, or just benefited from the Clinton name?

Lee Fang's Intercept article titled Private Prison Lobbyists Are Raising Cash for Hillary Clinton highlights why poll numbers will change rapidly.

Therefore, what happens to the Clinton campaign if African Americans choose Bernie Sanders in South Carolina, and other regions throughout the South?

Contrary to pundits who cite only polls, and never why these polls might change, the African American community can't be reduced to a static poll number. Poll numbers don't reflect Hillary Clinton's 3 a. m. ad against Barack Obama in 2008 (containing a "racist sub-message" according to Harvard's Orlando Patterson), nor do these statistics reflect the fact prison lobbyists once raised money for Hillary Clinton.

Like every other community in the United States, African American intellectuals and political leaders represent a wide range of viewpoints, and while Dr. Cornel West and Ta-Nehisi Coates might disagree on certain issues, they're voting for Bernie Sanders.

Former NAACP president Ben Jealous is voting for Bernie Sanders, as is the great Civil Rights icon and actor Harry Belafonte. Danny Glover, Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, Terrel Jermaine Starr, and influential talk show hosts like Tim Black and Benjamin Dixon are voting for Bernie Sanders. Black Women for Bernie, Trayvon Martin family lawyer Natalie Jackson, as well as groups online and throughout the country support Bernie Sanders over Clinton.

Killer Mike and Scarface, in addition to Bun B and other rap artists have endorsed Bernie Sanders in 2016, and artists of all backgrounds are voting for Sanders.

My friend Tim Black of Tim Black TV has a powerful message for South Carolina voters in this segment, and I was honored to be on his show several weeks ago. Benjamin Dixon is also a powerful voice and advocate for Bernie Sanders, and I explained on his show that prison lobbyists expect something from Clinton's campaign.

Civil Rights icon Harry Belafonte is voting for Bernie Sanders, and explains why in this Bernie 2016 video. A POLITICO piece titled Harry Belafonte endorses Bernie Sanders highlights Belafonte's recent endorsement:

Harry Belafonte has endorsed Bernie Sanders.

In a video posted on the Vermont senator's YouTube channel, the entertainer and social activist says Sanders' candidacy is giving an opportunity for "young people -- all people a choice to turn this ship of state called America around and place it on a new course. That's why I've endorsed Bernie Sanders."

Belafonte said Sanders represents "a moral imperative" and a "certain kind of truth that's not often evidenced in the course of politics."

When Harry Belafonte states Sanders represents "a moral imperative," Bernie offers something Hillary can't in 2016.

When Harry Belafonte states Sanders represents "a moral imperative," Bernie offers something Hillary can't in 2016.

Former NAACP president Ben Jealous explained the enormous differences between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton on this segment of The Rachel Maddow Show. Quoted in a Real Clear Politics transcript, here's Mr. Jealous highlighting the stark contrast between both campaigns:

BEN JEALOUS: In 2016 she supports the death penalty.

I'm willing to say, let's not hold any of her husband's bills against her, we're talking about her own actions.

Her own words

This is a woman who starts off supporting Barry Goldwater, fine that's her parents, and then she supported the Black Panther Party.

Bernie in college was going to jail with the Congress of Racial equality.

In the 80s, she chaired the Children's Defense Fund, but then in the 90s, the CDF came out with the "Super Predator" theory which said there were some kids who were so sociopathic by age six months that they were beyond redemption.

It is not just a violation of psychology it is a violation of theology.

And it was not used against young white men in Columbine, it was almost always used to explain the actions of young urban black men...

I can't explain it. It confounds me...

It comes down to the trio that MLK referred to as the triplets of evil: racism, militarism, and greed.

Bernie Sanders has been very consistent in fighting racism, in fighting stupid wars, Vietnam or Iraq, he has been very consistent in fighting greed.

When you take those with Hillary, it just gets confusing, confusing.

While most people forget Clinton's call for more prisons in the 90s, Ben Jealous points out that Clinton "chaired the Children's Defense Fund, but then in the 90s, the CDF came out with the 'Super Predator' theory which said there were some kids who were so sociopathic by age six months that they were beyond redemption."

It was former first lady Hillary Clinton who once declared, "We need more and tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders."

Actor and activist Danny Glover is also voting for Bernie Sanders. Glover wrote a brilliant piece in The Huffington Post titled Sanders Campaign Is a Genuine Progressive Social Movement for Democracy:

We must change our national priorities, away from the endless overseas wars that are the main cause of terrorism -- therefore begetting more war -- and invest in the education of our children and youth. Here, too, Sanders shows a clear contrast with his opponent, who voted for the Iraq War and has continued since then to advocate a more belligerent foreign policy than that of President Obama.

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Glover on foreign policy, and echo similar sentiments in my own YouTube segment, explaining why I'll only vote for Bernie Sanders in 2016.

Although disappointed with the Vermont Senator's stance on reparations, Ta-Nehisi Coates is voting for Bernie Sanders, as illustrated in a Democracy Now interview titled Ta-Nehisi Coates Is Voting for Bernie Sanders Despite the Senator's Opposition to Reparations:

AMY GOODMAN: Will you be voting for Senator Sanders?

TA-NEHISI COATES: I will be voting for Senator Sanders. I have tried to avoid this question, but, yes, I will be voting for Senator Sanders. I try to avoid that, because I want to write as a journalist--do you know what I mean?--and separate that from my role as, I don't know, a private citizen. But I don't think much is accomplished by ducking the question. Yes, I will vote for Senator Sanders. My son influenced me.

While Ta-Nehisi Coates isn't enamored with every aspect of the Sanders campaign, the National Book Award winner will be voting for Bernie Sanders.

Finally, Dr. Cornel West has championed Bernie Sanders and when Sanders eventually wins the White House, should be credited for a large part of the campaign's success. Dr. West will be two-for-two in presidential elections, helping Barack Obama win in 2008, and helping usher a new era within American politics with Bernie Sanders. There are simply no words to highlight the positive impact of Nina Turner and Killer Mike for the Sanders campaign, and their contributions have been truly profound.

However, in my mind Dr. West almost single-handedly brought the Sanders campaign from a bourgeoning movement, into a national powerhouse capable of defeating Clinton's firewalls, vast machine, and political ties within Congress. If there's one person, out of so many people, of all backgrounds in 2016, who's been instrumental to Bernie's campaign, supporters forever owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Cornel West.

Most importantly, the movement, and President Bernie Sanders will forever owe a debt of gratitude to America's 45 million African Americans, when Sanders defeats Clinton and the eventual GOP nominee to win the presidency. This debt, in the form of real and genuine political engagement, must surpass even President Obama's positive achievements within the African American community. I promise, win or lose, to never forget the African American support vital to the Sanders campaign, and to help champion the issues important to the black community. In 2016, however, the Clinton machine will be defeated by Bernie Sanders. When this happens, future President Sanders must always remember that African Americans paved the way for a new era in American politics.