On Sunday, Nov. 22, Bernie Sanders made his way down south to speak to the people of Savannah, Georgia. The town hall meeting took place in the Johnny Mercer Theater, in the Savannah Civic Center from 6-8 p.m.
Before the doors even opened at 5 p.m. hundreds of people were lined up. The line went from the doors on the east side of the Civic Centrr all the way to Liberty Street and consisted of people of all races, ages and genders patiently waiting to hear Sanders speak. With approximately 2,500 people in attendance, every seat in the theater was occupied.
Mayor Edna Jackson began the event, taking the stage to introduce Sanders. Sanders walked out to people standing up, applauding and chanting, “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie!”
“Something has happened in the last six or seven months, and that is as we have gone around the country people are increasingly understanding that something is fundamentally wrong in our country today,” said Sanders, beginning his speech.
When Sanders declared that “the only way we transform America is when millions of people stand up and we come together,” almost the entire room stood up, applauding and cheering at the sentiment.
He lightheartedly joked about football being at the forefront of Georgia’s mind when asking the crowd to spend some of that time thinking about politics. “I know that here in Georgia football is important. I know. All I ask is let’s spend half as much time thinking about the future of the world as we do about the game.”
Throughout his speech, Sanders reiterated the importance of voting and being a part of the political “revolution.”
“If the Koch brothers and their friends are going to spend 900,000,000 on this campaign you damn well better
understand that politics is important,” Sanders said.
“They win when people don’t vote, they win when people give up,” said Sanders referring to the Republican party, urging people to go out and vote.
Sanders called out to the room, saying that their job did not end the day of the election and that there is — and still will be — a lot of work to be done.
“We have got to change political consciousness in America. We’ve [got to] change our political culture.”
Sanders explained that what is setting their campaign apart from the other candidates is that they “are discussing the real issues, facing the real people of this country.”
One of his many focuses and issues he discussed was education — more importantly a lack thereof. Sanders explained how in certain families, going to college is just not a reality because they cannot afford it. “People should not be denied going to college because they don’t have enough money,” he said.
Sanders also underlined the disparity between youth in schools and youth in jail.
“It seems to me that it makes a lot more sense for us to be invested in education and jobs for our kids rather than jails and incarceration. And it costs less money for us to send a young kid to the University of Georgia than to lock them up,” he said.
He noted the many countries around the world with tuition free education and how when elected president he promises to make U.S. universities tuition free.
“We do not succeed now or in the future unless we have the best education workforce in the world.”
Sanders stated that he asked economists to do a study on unemployment for young people, which led him to understand the unemployment rates in high school graduates between 17 and 20 years. He found that if they were white, 33 percent were unemployed, latino 36 percent and African American 51 percent.
He also highlighted the absurdity of someone working 40 or so hours a week, and still being payed minimum wage, which he explained is not enough to raise a family let alone live a sustainable life. Sanders responded to this by saying that he wants to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Sanders covered a plethora of topics in his hour and 30-minute speech, ranging from the crumbling state of economy, health care, unemployment, education and fair wages to global warming, police brutality, the war on drugs. He ended his speech by discussing current affairs such as ISIS and urging one last call to action.
“What I am asking you to do is to get involved in transforming the United Stated of America …. when you get involved, when your friends get involved, there is nothing, nothing, nothing that we cannot accomplish,” Sanders said, concluding his speech.
For more information on Sanders and his campaign, you can visit his website.
Written by Asli Shebe.
Photographed by Shaye Garrigan.