Bernie Sanders Singles Out Corporations At Rally In Greensboro

Sep 14, 2015

Bernie Sanders pumps up a crowd in Greensboro Sunday
Credit Jorge Valencia / WUNC

After giving speeches in Georgia and South Carolina over the weekend, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders got on stage in front of a crowd of more than nine thousand people in Greensboro Sunday evening.

He pumped up the audience to the song "Rockin' In The Free World" by Neil Young, a tune that seemed  fitting for a rally.

“Alright, are you guys ready to make a political revolution?” Sanders asked on stage followed by an enthusiastic "Yeah!" from the crowd.

A 74-year-old senator from Vermont with a Brooklyn accent may seem an unlikely leader for a revolution.

“A lot of the media said, 'Well, you know, Bernie Sanders is a nice guy, but he’s a fringe candidate,' because who in America thinks we’re prepared to stand up to the billionaire class and fight for justice?" he said during the rally.

Since Sanders launched his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, many have seen him as an unlikely contestant. But that may not be the case anymore. He’s polling in either first or second place against Hillary Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire. One of his main campaign themes is inequality, and he started on Sunday by addressing major corporations.

“You are not going to continue sending our jobs to China and other countries when millions of Americans desperately need work here," Sanders said.

The inequality, according to Sanders, is among income and racial groups. He said a study he commissioned this summer found the unemployment rate of young African American high school graduates is almost 20 percentage points higher than their white classmates.

“What we are doing is turning our backs on an entire generation of young people," Sanders said.

He said many people who are employed, and earn the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, are earning what he calls a starvation wage.

“We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage $15 an hour,” he said.

Even though Sanders didn’t single out any of his opponents, he did harshly criticize corporations. On multiple occasions, Sanders singled out the Koch brothers, who are famous for their political contributions.

Sanders said he supports public financing of elections, and is relying on small donations for his political campaign. He said he does not want to have dinner with billionaires to ask them for money.

“I am proud to tell you that this campaign does not and will not have a Super PAC,” Sanders told the audience.

Sanders said as a result of income inequality, many young people never aspire to study further than high school. During his speech, he mentioned a bill that has gained little traction in the Senate, but has generated much conversation.

“That is why I have introduced legislation which will make every public college and university tuition free.”

The people at the coliseum, which is close to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, cheered. Sanders said he plans on paying for his programs by making the tax code tougher on corporations.

Briana Garcia, a student at North Carolina State University, was in the crowd.

"Feel the Bern. That's his hashtag: 'Feel the Bern.' It's to get people pumped up,"she said.

She traveled to the rally with a few of her friends. One of them was Joey Daughtridge.

“Bernie’s a stud, man. Bernie’s a rock star," Daughtridge said.

Daughtridge said Sanders had won him over even before Sunday. Daughtridge is a student at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and drove three hours to see the speech.

"I love that he doesn’t attack the other people that run against him. He just talks about the issues," he said.

Sanders will speak to more college students Monday morning. He is scheduled to give a speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg Virginia.