Symone Sanders, former national press secretary for Senator Bernie Sanders, urged attendees to be agents of change when she delivered the University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address this past Wednesday.
Addressing a packed audience, Sanders, who now works as a political commentator for CNN, encouraged listeners to brave discomfort by shedding light on Dr. King’s legacy as a “radical revolutionary.”
“Radical revolutionaries must be willing to buck the status quo and take a risk,” Sanders said. “Dr. King’s legacy demands that we take stock of what’s going on around us and think about how to make it better without waiting for permission.”
Sanders detailed the beginnings of her career working in the juvenile justice system where she fought her superiors to include incarcerated kids on a reform committee she chaired.
“It was my job in that moment to stand in the gap and take stock of who was being locked out of the proverbial building,” Sanders said. “Part of being a radical revolutionary is willing to be uncomfortable, and making other people uncomfortable.”
The 29-year-old political strategist, who shares a last name with her former employer but bears no relation, also shared stories of working with Senator Sanders during his 2016 presidential campaign.
Sanders recalled a time she was profiled by state troopers at a campaign event, saying the experience led to a conversation with the Senator about the ongoing status of race relations in the United States.
Prior to her speech, Sanders visited the Douglass Leadership House (DLH) for an interview and Q&A session with DLH members and local high school students. Those present asked questions ranging from her career to her experiences as a woman of color.
Asked by a student how she was able to get her job with Senator Sanders, she replied, “I asked for it,” and advised students to “figure it out and get an answer” when faced with options and opportunities in life.
A larger Q&A session followed her address where she was asked about a variety of topics, including the buzz surrounding Senator Kamala Harris and her recently-announced run for the White House in 2020.
When asked who she thought would win the Democratic nomination, Sanders replied, “I think we’re going to have a very robust primary and whomever emerges as the nominee will give the current president a run for his money.”