Yvette Williams, Chair and Founder of the Clark County Black Caucus, says Sanders is pushing the Democratic party towards policy positions more in the interest of Black Americans
SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. On Thursday, February 18, the Nevada-based Clark County Black Caucus formally endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, praising his record on addressing inequality, college affordability, and jobs. Speaking at Harlem Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, flanked by Eric Holder, Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, and Al Sharpton, Hillary Clinton pledged to dismantle systemic racism. On to discuss both campaigns and their racial justice platforms within the context of the upcoming Nevada caucus, we have Yvette Williams. Yvette is the former Nevada state Democratic party secretary, and an Obama national superdelegate in 2008. Thank you so much for joining us, Yvette. YVETTE WILLIAMS: Thank you. Thank you for having me. PERIES: So, Yvette, when the Black Caucus in Washington, Black Caucus PAC, I should say, endorsed Hillary Clinton, and you guys went against that and endorsed Bernie, tell me why. WILLIAMS: Well, if you take a look at our platform, our platform on our website is CCBlackCaucus.com. If you take our platform and put that next against the agenda for Senator Sanders it pretty much mirrors it, you know, almost word by word. So you know, we are in, in stride with his agenda and his vision, and what he wants to see for America. In particular for black Americans. A lot of these issues that he has raised and pushed and put on the forefront, at the forefront, I should say, in this presidential election, are things that we have been talking about in our community for decades, have been frustrated about on a local level. Many of us out there who are grassroots organizations such as ours, we’re all 100 percent volunteers. We don’t get paid, everyone does it for their passion, for their community, wanting to see things improve. Organizations such as ours, such as Black Lives Matter, and many other local, homegrown grassroots organizations are out there fighting. You know, it’s hard work. It’s hard going up during your legislative session and trying to push your, your representatives and your government, your local government to do something about it. I often see the federal government providing opportunities and resources, but oftentimes when it gets to our state level, then that’s where we fall down. And so we’re seeing this trickle-down effect that we saw often here in the media, and we’re looking for change. We really want to see some changes. We want to see the spirit within the Democratic party change back to a time when you had a Hubert Humphrey, back in 1948, when he pushed the Democratic party to adopt a civil rights agenda in their platform. And when you look to 1972, when you had a presidential candidate, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American to run for president of the United States, push the Democratic party to make sure that we had a more diverse leadership within the party. So I’m welcoming, very excited about what we’re seeing, because I think he’s pushing, Senator Sanders is pushing, the Democratic party. And I think it’s long overdue, and we’re welcoming it. PERIES: How are the black voters in Nevada responding to your position to support Bernie, and what does sort of the rank and file on the ground feel about his campaign against Hillary Clinton’s? WILLIAMS: Well, that’s twofold, so let me answer that for you. From the overall community we’re getting a very good response. From our supporters, our members, we’re getting a great response. Twitter is just on fire right now. And so it’s been–you know, you can see oftentimes what we find is–and I hear this often in the community, and you hear this often in minority communities. We’re not really happy with anybody, but you know, who’s going to do the, at least do something, even if it’s a little bit for our community? And so we tend to settle for less. And so oftentimes people just kind of gravitate toward the establishment candidate, or the one that the party is pushing, you know, at the neighborhood fish fry. And so oftentimes you have a huge community of minority activists up there, and people who are more savvy and watching what’s going on, who are paying attention. Those people are paying attention, and are not sheep. They’re just not following the herd. And they can make up their own minds. They understand what’s going on, they understand what’s needed. And we’re getting tremendous support on that level. I will say that our endorsement came with members of our caucus voting for Hillary Clinton. It was not a unanimous endorsement, but it was a 2-1 Bernie Sanders. And that goes to say, I think it kind of, again, reinforces–. PERIES: Let me ask you something. Steven Horsford, who had agreed to be on this panel with us discussing this issue, last minute sort of bowed out of it. Now, he’s supporting Hillary Clinton, as is the PAC in Washington. What is the essential difference between the two of you, from your point of view? WILLIAMS: Oh, absolutely. Thank you for that question. I love that question. In fact, every black elected here in Nevada got right behind Hillary Clinton. Very disappointing for, for me personally, and I’m sure for many other blacks here in Nevada. We have tremendous issues that we’re dealing with here around a huge black job disparity. White unemployment here is a little over 6 percent, Hispanics a little over 7 percent, but black unemployment is over 14 percent. So we have a huge issue here. 80 percent of our black students in all of Nevada are on free or reduced lunch. I can go on and on and on about these kinds of inequalities that we’re dealing with here. And so it troubles me. It troubles me when I see our entire black delegation, black elected officials here in Nevada, not give Senator Sanders a fair shot. And so, you know, it is what it is, but this isn’t anything that’s unusual, uncommon. You know, we are often, you know, pushing, pushing hard, you know, to push change and create policy change with those decision makers. And so, you know, we have a group of black elected here that are wonderful people we work hand-in-hand with. But when it comes to politics and it’s an election year, and you’re running for reelection also, you know, it’s kind of difficult to stand up or stand, you know, with someone other than that established candidate, especially when it’s, you’re in a partisan race. It’s unfortunate that that’s what we’re dealing with, but that’s the reality all around the country. And I just want to say, just in talking to national colleagues, I know–and it’s been troubling to watch the media continually message–that Sanders does not–that Hillary Clinton has all the black vote and Sanders doesn’t, and that’s just not true. PERIES: Yvette, I thank you so much for coming on the Real News Network and giving us a sense of what’s going on in Nevada, and wish you all the best with the upcoming primary. WILLIAMS: Thank you so much. Appreciate you allowing grassroots to have a voice. Thank you. PERIES: Indeed. Thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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