Black Twitter is not here for Bernie criticizing Obama on the anniversary of MLK’s death

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Sen. Bernie Sanders called former President Barack Obama an ‘extraordinary candidate.’

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has Twitter hitting back after an event commemorating the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Wednesday, where he made comments aimed at the leadership of former President Barack Obama.

Participating at a town hall discussion on economic justice in Jackson, Mississippi, on Wednesday, Sanders and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba discussed MLK Jr.’s commitment to economic justice, answering questions submitted via social media regarding the state of justice 50 years after the civil rights leaders’ assassination.

Sanders’ comments, however, took a turn for the outrageous when he called the “business model” of the Democratic Party a failure over the past 15 years. He elaborated that people “sometimes don’t see that because there was a charismatic individual named Barack Obama. He was obviously an extraordinary candidate, brilliant guy.”

Beyond that, the senator said, Democrats lost a record number of legislative seats across the U.S. to Republicans, as well as lost control of Congress during Obama’s presidency.

For Sanders, who lit a fire under the Democratic Party and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 primary and continues to distinguish himself as an anti-establishment player among centrists, these comments weren’t as much surprising to audiences as they felt tactless. To call former President Obama a “charismatic individual” and “extraordinary candidate” in Jackson, Mississippi, of all places, on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King Jr.’s assassination, of all days, felt discounting to critics, who expressed their frustrations on Twitter.

Even before Sanders’ comments drew ire on social media, his appearance at the Jackson town hall wasn’t completely appreciated by the community, expressing similar sentiments the internet had latched onto just hours later. In a piece published by the Jackson Free Press, writer Laurie Bertram Roberts, who is also a grassroots activist and co-founder of the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund, wrote, “Bernie cannot come to the cookout. Sorry, not sorry.”

Bertram Roberts’ piece expressed that Sanders had no place being invited to the town hall for the senator’s repeated argument that class issues are more concerning than racial issues, and his denouncement of “identity politics” and flexibility on reproductive justice and abortion rights.

“So far [Sanders]’s just playing the hokey pokey with social justice and, frankly, black people and especially black women don’t need any more white so-called allies who do that,” Bertram Roberts wrote. “Martin Luther King Jr. was many things but he was never a man who was flexible about human rights. He died working for economic and racial justice. He certainly wasn’t a man who didn’t understand intersectionality even before we had a word for it. The Poor People’s Campaign is an intersectional vision.”

Sen. Sanders’ office did not immediately return the Daily Dot’s request for comment.

Samantha Grasso

Samantha Grasso

Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.