Sanders launching HBCU tour
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats call on Biden to step up virus response We are America's independent contractors, and we are terrified Overnight Health Care — Biden's Supreme Court setback MORE (I-Vt.) will launch his tour of historically black colleges and universities starting on Thursday in South Carolina. 

As the Democratic presidential race tightens in Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders is turning to the  states that follow, including South Carolina, where he trails former secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonA year into his presidency, Biden is polling at an all-time low The Memo: 2024 chatter reveals Democratic nervousness Second gentleman Emhoff acts as public link to White House MORE among the significant voting bloc of African Americans. 

Sanders will kick-off his “Feel the Bern” tour at South Carolina State University in conjunction with Benedict College in the early-voting state. 

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Sanders's campaign said in a release that Thursday’s stop will feature Dr. Cornel West, a civil rights activist and philosopher who has endorsed Sanders’s bid, and will discuss criminal justice reform and tuition-free public colleges and universities, which is a key pillar of Sanders’s agenda. 

The tour’s upcoming stops include Tennessee State University, Alabama State University, Jackson State University, Florida A&M University, Virginia State University, Howard University, the Atlanta University Center and Benedict College. 

The Thursday visit comes about a month and a half ahead of South Carolina’s primary and as Sanders and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton compete for the African-American vote. 

Both candidates have made a pointed effort to address the civil rights movement and have met with organizers from the Black Lives Matter movement. 

But the former secretary of State holds a bigger lead over Sanders when it comes to support from black Democratic voters. 

Clinton holds a commanding 40 point lead over Sanders in South Carolina, according to a RealClearPolitics average.

The South Carolina Democratic primary will be held on Feb. 27.