Prominent black intellectual backs Sanders

Writer and intellectual Ta-Nehisi Coates on Wednesday said he will vote for Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump thought biker rally crowd would resemble ‘I Have a Dream’ speech Sanders supporter challenges Wyo. delegate allocation Snowden mocks Trump for refusing to debate Sanders MORE over Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonDems see political gold in fight over Trump's taxes Trump tears into Kristol on Twitter Hillary's ObamaCare problem MORE.

­

ADVERTISEMENT
In an interview with Democracy Now, Coates said Sanders is the candidate who can do the most to help the black community.

“I will be voting for Senator Sanders,” Coates said. “I have tried to avoid this question, but yes I will be voting for Senator Sanders.”

Coates, the author of the acclaimed essay "The Case for Reparations," has been critical of Sanders’s reluctance to include policies specific to African-Americans in his welfare platform. But Coates said he would support the Vermont senator's candidacy, nonetheless. 

“One can be very, very critical of Senator Sanders on this specific issue,” he said. “One can say Senator Sanders should have more explicit anti-racist policy within his racial-justice platform, not just more general stuff and still cast a vote for Senator Sanders and still feel that Senator Sanders in the best option that we have in the race.”

“But just because that’s who you’re going to vote for doesn’t mean you then have to agree with everything they say,” he added.

Coates said he is “concerned" about Clinton’s support of harsher criminal justice reform as first lady and her six-figure speaking honorariums from big banks. 

“You know, like a lot of people, I’m very concerned about where her positions were in the 1990s, when we had some of the most disgusting legislation in terms of criminal justice really in this country’s history,” he said.

“I get really, really concerned when I see somebody taking $600,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs [and] not release what they’re actually saying.”

On the heels of Sanders’s resounding first-place finish in the New Hampshire primary, Coates said he was “pleasantly stunned” that Americans were backing a self-proclaimed democratic socialist in such numbers.

“Well, I think had you told me this like a year ago, I certainly would not have expected, you know, an avowed socialist to, you know, be putting up these sorts of numbers and actually be contending for the Democratic Party nomination,” he said. “But I think it’s awesome.”

Coates later clarified in a series of tweets that he was not "endorsing" Sanders with the intent to sway others, only voting for him as a private citizen.

Sanders on Wednesday met with civil-rights leader Al Sharpton ahead of the South Carolina primary.

More in Presidential races

Former Obama aide: Sanders will back Clinton

Read more »