Sanders connects with black voters during Chicago forum with Jesse Jackson

  • Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders talks to his supporters as he leaves Rainbow PUSH Saturday in Chicago.

    Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders talks to his supporters as he leaves Rainbow PUSH Saturday in Chicago. Associated Press

  • Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at Rainbow PUSH Saturday in Chicago.

    Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at Rainbow PUSH Saturday in Chicago. Associated Press

  • A supporter cheers for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at Rainbow PUSH Saturday in Chicago.

    A supporter cheers for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at Rainbow PUSH Saturday in Chicago. Associated Press

  • Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, hugs a supporter as he arrives at Rainbow PUSH Saturday in Chicago.

    Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, hugs a supporter as he arrives at Rainbow PUSH Saturday in Chicago. Associated Press

  • Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, left, speaks as Rev. Jesse Jackson listens at Rainbow PUSH Saturday in Chicago.

    Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, left, speaks as Rev. Jesse Jackson listens at Rainbow PUSH Saturday in Chicago. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 3/12/2016 9:45 PM

With only days until the Illinois primary, Bernie Sanders was in Chicago on Saturday to make a last-minute appeal for support among blacks, a voting bloc that has eluded him so far in his presidential campaign.

Sanders spoke at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition's Saturday morning forum with Rev. Jesse Jackson, his second appearance in two days as he attempts to gain ground in the home state of President Barack Obama.

 

Hillary Clinton, likewise, added a another stop Monday, this time at a Chicago union hall.

Both candidates have ties to the Chicago area, Clinton from her Park Ridge upbringing and Sanders from his student years at University of Chicago.

On Saturday, Sanders returned Trump's accusation that his supporters were to blame for a fracas that shut down a planned Trump rally Friday.

"What Donald Trump must do now is stop provoking violence and make it clear to his supporters that people who attend his rallies or protests should not be assaulted, should not be punched, should not be kicked," Sanders said.

At Rainbow PUSH, he spoke about issues including income inequality, police misconduct and rebuilding urban neighborhoods.

"What we need is a political revolution," Sanders said as part of his often-repeated campaign message from a year that has seen African Americans turn out more for his opponent, Hillary Clinton, in every state.

Although the Rainbow PUSH event was only halfway full, it was a crowd that embraced Sanders, who clapped along with gospel music from the Howard University choir, and sent him off with a standing ovation and a "Feel the Bern" chant at the end.

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Jackson, founder of the civil rights organization, has not endorsed a candidate, though, and said he plans to do a radio interview with Clinton in coming days.

"I'm glad that Hillary and Bernie choose to focus more on issues than each other," he said.

The two have scheduled several recent appearances here as they battle for votes in a state it once appeared Clinton could take for granted.

Clinton was in Vernon Hills for a rally on Thursday night and plans another campaign stop on Monday morning at the Plumbers JAC Local Union 130 headquarters in Chicago.

And Sanders' appearance Saturday wasn't far from where he was arrested in 1963 while a student at the University of Chicago protesting segregated schools.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Bernie Sanders is the way," said Irene Robinson, a Chicago resident who attended the Rainbow PUSH forum. "He has been in the fight, he knows the struggles."

But loyalty to Clinton runs deep among many in the black community.

Last week, she earned endorsements from some of the top African American elected officials in the area, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and congressman Danny Davis, who while referring to "my good friend Bernie Sanders," went on to say about Hillary, according to ABC 7, "she is my candidate, unequivocally and without a doubt."

But the Sanders campaign is trying to build on his tight win in Michigan last week, which came with 34 percent of the black vote, an improvement on southern states, such as in South Carolina, where he got only 16 percent of the African Americans vote.

Jackson asked how to encourage voter turnout, especially among minorities. Sanders said he wants everyone to be automatically registered when they turn 18 and spoke out against voter ID laws that discourage turnout. "The only way we change things is when people become involved in the political process," he said.

He added that working on issues within the criminal justice system would be at the top of his list if elected president.

"Anytime a person is killed while being apprehended by police or dies in police custody it should automatically trigger a Department of Justice investigation," Sanders said to a cheering crowd that has recently seen fallout from the police shooting of Laquan McDonald.

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