By Jesse Byrnes
Sanders makes pitch to black college students
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie SandersBernie SandersLate polls show Dems gaining in governor races Could President Hillary heal a divided nation? Clinton camp oppo research: Sanders has 'no accomplishments' MORE sought Tuesday evening to rally black college students as he the continues efforts to make inroads with African-American voters.
Speaking at historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta, Sanders focused on his plan to reform the nation's criminal justice system and push for free college tuition.
"We started in Georgia way way way down, and you know what, I think we're going to win right here," Sanders said, mentioning his showing in Iowa and New Hampshire earlier this month.
Sanders spoke of "institutional racism" in his stop on a tour of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), which was attended by more than 4,800 people, according to the school.
Before the event, rival Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonDems double down on Nevada Latino vote The New Yorker endorses Clinton House race between Republicans turns ugly MORE's campaign issued a statement slamming Sanders for leaving students at historically black colleges "out in the cold."
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), a Morehouse alum, argued in the statement that Sanders' plan for tuition-free school at public colleges and university doesn't invest in private colleges like Morehouse.
During his speech, Sanders sought to contrast a multi-billion-dollar agreement between a Wall Street firm and the federal government with drug laws in southern states for those possessing marijuana.
"In America today, we have more people in jail than any other country on earth," Sanders said. "China has four times our population — we have more people in jail than China does.
"I believe that we should be investing in education and jobs for our young people, not more jails or incarceration," Sanders told the students, vowing that after his first term in office, "we will not have more people in jail than any other country.
"Together, we are going to end the horrors that we have seen time and time again on TV of unarmed African-Americans being shot and killed by police officers," Sanders said to raucous applause, as he decried the police presence in minority communities as "occupying armies."
He also touted his bill to end the longtime federal ban on marijuana, saying that "at the federal level, possessing marijuana should not be a crime."
And Sanders addressed unemployment, especially among young African-Americans, saying "We have got to create millions of decent-paying jobs."
Earlier in the day Tuesday, Sanders campaigned in South Carolina with African-Americans connected to high-profile police brutality cases, including the daughter of Eric Garner.
Sanders and Clinton are battling ahead of the South Carolina primary on Feb. 27.