Radical Rapper Killer Mike Just Endorsed Bernie Sanders for President

The outspoken and critically-acclaimed rap artist’s support is a good sign for Sanders’s presidential campaign.

Miles Kampf-Lassin June 29, 2015

(Flickr / Brookings Institution / Do512)

On Mon­day after­noon, rap artist Killer Mike announced his sup­port for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s pres­i­den­tial run on Twit­ter, cit­ing the senator’s call for restor­ing the Vot­ing Rights Act to make vot­ing eas­i­er for dis­en­fran­chised com­mu­ni­ties in the Unit­ed States.

The support of black activists like Killer Mike could prove helpful in establishing Sanders as a viable progressive alternative to Hillary Clinton.

Killer Mike, whose giv­en name is Michael Ren­der, has long been an out­spo­ken fig­ure in the hip-hop com­mu­ni­ty on polit­i­cal issues rang­ing from racist polic­ing poli­cies to eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ty and gun vio­lence. His influ­ence has steadi­ly grown since he first debuted on the hip-hop scene in 2000, appear­ing on Outkast’s sem­i­nal album Stanko­nia.

Ear­li­er this month he threw his hat in the elec­toral polit­i­cal are­na him­self, announc­ing a pos­si­ble future run for state rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Georgia’s 55th district. 

Recent­ly, Killer Mike has seen great com­mer­cial and crit­i­cal suc­cess with his recent projects Rap Music, a solo record, and Run the Jew­els 2, his newest album as part of a duo with fel­low rap­per El‑P. That suc­cess has pro­vid­ed him a grow­ing mega­phone to reach audi­ences with his polit­i­cal mes­sages crit­i­cal of cor­po­rate cap­i­tal­ism, the prison indus­tri­al com­plex and a demo­c­ra­t­ic sys­tem that shuts out large swathes of the pop­u­la­tion — all issues that Bernie Sanders has been vocal on through­out his polit­i­cal career. 

With appear­ances on net­works includ­ing CNN and Fox News as well as a series of uni­ver­si­ty lec­tures on police vio­lence, Killer Mike is earn­ing his rep­u­ta­tion as a respect­ed voice on polit­i­cal issues affect­ing black peo­ple in America.

While Killer Mike’s sup­port for Sanders like­ly won’t imme­di­ate­ly pull large vot­ing blocs into the demo­c­ra­t­ic social­ist senator’s camp, it does show that Sanders’s mes­sage has poten­tial to break through to the African-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty, despite Hillary Clinton’s mas­sive advan­tage among the demographic. 

In ref­er­ence to Clin­ton and Jeb Bush’s can­di­da­cies, Killer Mike tweet­ed, I am begin­ning to see Amer­i­can polit­i­cal fam­i­lies like mon­archs and I have no affec­tion for monarchs.”

As Bernie Sanders con­tin­ues to intro­duce him­self to African-Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tions across the coun­try — point­ing to his his­to­ry of lead­ing sit-ins as a civ­il rights activist in the 1960s and his strong vot­ing record on social jus­tice issues — the sup­port of black activists like Killer Mike and Cor­nel West could prove help­ful in estab­lish­ing him­self as a viable pro­gres­sive alter­na­tive to Clin­ton, capa­ble of tack­ling issues that dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly affect black Amer­i­cans includ­ing eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ty, mass unem­ploy­ment, urban decay and access to vot­ing rights. 

Miles Kampf-Lassin, a grad­u­ate of New York Uni­ver­si­ty’s Gal­latin School in Delib­er­a­tive Democ­ra­cy and Glob­al­iza­tion, is a Web Edi­tor at In These Times. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @MilesKLassin

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