Scores of Washington-area supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, amidst chants and colorful signs, joined hundreds more in cities across the nation in marches to display their approval of Sander’s bid for the Democratic nomination.
They joined people Saturday in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Rochester, N.Y., where the march drew more than 1,000 supporters, as well as other cities.
The goal was to heighten support for the candidate prior to the important Super Tuesday primaries March 1 and to lighten a large primary loss in South Carolina.
The local march started at McPherson Square and travelled down Vermont Avenue. Accompanied by a police escort and using one traffic lane, supporters chanted “Raise the minimum wage” and “Feel the Bern” before ending at the African American Civil War Memorial on U Street at Vermont Avenue, where a greeting band met them.
Peter Rosenberg, a member of Montgomery County for Bernie, said Sanders is the first presidential candidate he has supported.
“He’s the only candidate that’s not purchased,” Rosenberg said. “He’s endured with this message and it’s a populist message and there’s no way not to support him.”
The marchers were a diverse group, reflecting a vaariety of ages, races and economic backgrounds. Parents brought their children, ranging in ages from months old to 8 years to march with Bernie.
The group was made up of a coalition of organizations, including DC for Bernie Sanders, DC Socialist Alternative, AU Students for Bernie, Columbia Heights for Bernie Sanders, and DC Democratic Socialists of America all partnered to organize a march for Bernie Sanders through DC.
The supporters were upbeat and enthusiastic, despite a predicted Sanders loss to frontrunner Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. senator and secretary of state, in the South Carolina Democratic Primary. Clinton took 74 percent of the votes compared to 26 percent for Sanders Saturday, with more than 80 percent of the black vote for Clinton.
Jake Stevens, 25, a former American University student, was one of the principal organizers of the march. He said he began his work for Sanders last year when he started posting on Facebook about Sanders and received an outpouring of support.
Soon after he began posting on Facebook, Stevens said, “people were asking me ‘Are we having one of these marches,’ and I was like, ‘Yes.’ I just created a Facebook event and everything sort of fell into place and here we are.”
Heidi Clark was one of Sanders’ supporters.
“He’s light years away from any other candidate,” Clark, 47, said. “The biggest issue for me is wealth inequality. We might get to the point where it’s impossible to correct it unless we vote Bernie.”
Coleson Breburn, one of the march’s organizers, said he believes electing Sanders will lead to a larger political shift.
“This is a coalition of several groups trying to get Bernie elected, but also to grow the political revolution he’s talking about, not just through the campaign but beyond it as well,” Breburn said. “We’re excited. We feel like socialism is finally getting out there and people are getting fed up with the corporate b…s….”
Whether or not Sanders can bring together the nation, may be still up for question, but Roseberg said he has already been a unifying force in his personal life.
“I met my girlfriend at a march last year,” he said. “Now we do stuff like this together all the time. We’re in love thanks to Sanders.”