Ben Jealous, the former head of the NAACP, will endorse Bernie Sanders, a source familiar with the campaign told CNN.
Jealous, the popular and prominent civil rights leader will give Sanders a boost among black voters who connect well with his message but haven’t heard as much about him as they have his opponent. Support like this is crucial in coming primary states like South Carolina and other southern states.
Jealous is one of a number of prominent black Americans who have thrown their support behind Sanders, including Dr. Cornel West, rapper Killer Mike, and Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner. Sanders has also been attracting more support from South Carolina state lawmakers. Jealous was president and CEO of the NAACP for five years starting in 2008 and is now a venture capitalist.
Criminal justice reform is a huge part, if not the central part of the Sanders platform during his people-powered campaign for the White House. While on the campaign trail he has discussed his anti-segregation activism from decades ago as a college student in Chicago.
“We got involved in trying to desegregate the housing owned by the University of Chicago, segregated housing,” Sanders said during a CNN town hall on Wednesday night. “And we also got involved in efforts to desegregate the school system there and I got arrested. I think, you know, as far back as I can remember,” Sanders added, “injustice is something that I have always fought throughout my life.”
Jealous himself has been a longtime advocate for criminal justice reform and worked closely with the Baltimore Police Department on recommendations after the death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody in 2015.