Bernie Sanders will on Sunday conclude his two-part presidential campaign launch by emphasizing the role of race and racial discrimination in American society. His backdrop will be the skyline of Chicago.
His audience will likely hear about the senator’s civil rights activism at the University of Chicago in the 1960s and his arrest during a South Side protest against public-school segregation.
“This is the origin story of a political revolutionary,” Shaun King, a writer and activist, said as he introduced Sanders at a kick-off event in Brooklyn on Saturday.
Sanders is working to build a new kind of campaign, one that seeks to address the weaknesses of his 2016 run by expanding his appeal to nonwhite voters.
In Brooklyn, Sanders said: “One of the proudest days of my life was attending the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom led by Dr Martin Luther King Jr.”
The candidate from Vermont struggled to win over African Americans and other minority voters. He has worked to build more connections with the black community.
On Sunday, before speaking in Chicago, he will join his former opponent Hillary Clinton at the annual Martin and Coretta King unity breakfast in Selma, Alabama.
But Sanders has continued to face criticism for the way his speaks about race and racism. On a recent visit to South Carolina, an early voting state where black voters made up about roughly 60% of the Democratic primary vote in 2016, Sanders attempted to reset his message, declaring that “racial equality must be central to combating economic inequality”.
“History defines him,” Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator who is a co-chair of Sanders’ campaign, said in Brooklyn. “But it’s not just about what he did in the 60s and the 80s and the 90s, it is about what he is doing right now.”
The race for the party’s nomination has already attracted more than a dozen candidates and several more big names are weighing bids, including former Vice-President Joe Biden, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke and billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg. The field is dominated by women and minorities, such as Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, who have weaved their biographies into campaign narratives.