Black Lives Matter is, by definition, decentralized. But two of its most prominent figures have given Hillary Clinton their endorsement, potentially a big deal for the Democrat’s campaign, which has had trouble connecting with young black voters.
DeRay Mckesson, a prominent activist in the movement and co-founder of police reform group Campaign Zero, penned an op-ed for the Washington Post on Tuesday announcing his endorsement of Clinton, saying he believes she has come to recognize “the urgency of the need to address racism.”
“When I first met with her in October 2015, she had not yet released comprehensive policy positions dealing with racial justice,” Mckesson wrote.
Mckesson met with Clinton again last week and says he is encouraged by her now-more-defined platform, which “explicitly calls for undoing” some of the key components of the 1994 crime bill that Bill Clinton signed, including mandatory minimums, disparity between sentences for crack and cocaine, and “three strikes and you’re out.”
Brittany Packnett, co-founder of Campaign Zero, last month criticized Clinton for failing to connect with young black voters. But now she’s changed her tune. In a recent interview with Elle, Packnett said the threat of a Donald Trump presidency was “worrisome and dangerous” and she had decided to endorse Clinton. “I knew I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t stand up and do what I could now to encourage young people to vote,” she wrote.
The numbers seem to be moving in the right direction for Clinton. In September, a GenForward poll found that 39 percent of black millennials planned to vote; last week that number was 49 percent.
While Packnett and Mckesson have publicly declared they’re #WithHer, others remain skeptical. Alicia Garza, a Black Lives Matters co-founder, hasn’t warmed up to Clinton. “I lived through the Clinton years,” Garza recently told Elle. “It’s not like she was sipping tea. She was also campaigning on those policies.”