Democratic presidential candidate and New Hampshire primary winner Bernie Sanders joined the Reverend Al Sharpton for breakfast on Wednesday at Sylvia’s, the iconic soul food restaurant in Harlem.
The restaurant is the same one where Sharpton met then-Senator Barack Obama during his 2008 campaign. The meeting is particularly important as Sanders — who has been neck-and-neck in the polls against his rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — works to court the black vote, a major undertaking that is essential to both campaigns.
Next week, Clinton is also expected to meet with Sharpton.
Sharpton, an outspoken civil rights activist and noted White House advisor to President Obama, is a hugely influential figure in the African-American community, and his endorsement will mean a great deal to voters.
Recently, the author Ta-Nehisi Coates — another prominent voice in black culture and critic of institutionalized racism in America — made headlines when he announced that he would be voting for Sanders. Coates has been critical of Sanders opposition to reparations for slavery, but said that he was “stunned” by Sanders’ ascension to political relevance.
On Wednesday, Sharpton and Sanders hugged outside the restaurant before their meal, and Sharpton issued a brief statement when it was over. “I’ve asked him very bluntly about Flint,” Sharpton said. “I’ve asked him very bluntly about affirmative action. I've asked him very bluntly about the issues of police brutality and police misconduct, things I want to hear.”
Sharpton is expected to announce his endorsement sometime after his meeting with Clinton.