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Last August 29th, rapper Killer Mike and 78-year-old presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sat down together to discuss the contemporary relevance of Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign. It wasn’t long before Bernie talked about poverty in American cities today. “Tonight in America you're gonna have half a million people sleeping out on the streets. Where is the outrage regarding that? This year in America, 30,000 people are gonna die—disproportionately African-American, Latinos, poor people in general—because they don’t have any health care at all.” Bernie looked at Mike: “You ever talk to anybody who said, 'Ya know, I can’t afford to go to a doctor’”?

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Tonight in America you're gonna have half a million people sleeping out on the streets. Where is the outrage regarding that?

“Absolutely. I have two friends—my high school friends—who have died because of lack of health care….I got a call from one of my people, who said: ‘Man, your boy Bernie might have something with that health care thing. I gotta admit it, both of my parents are diabetic. Bernie is telling the truth about that.’”

“You know,” Mike said to Bernie, “I’m in the gym every morning because I don’t want to get diabetes.” He adds: “Black people are more disproportionately affected by diabetes than any other group. So when you say diabetes and talking about free health care, I want people who look like me on the other side of the camera to recognize that that is a black issue.”

Bernie asked Mike: “Do you get to Canada often on your trips?” “Yea,” said Mike, “But they caught me with a joint one time.” Bernie and Mike cracked up. Then Bernie, getting serious, told a story about a young man who rationed his insulin.

“It turns out 7.5 million people in this country use insulin. That’s a lot of people….But this is what’s crazy. We went to Canada. And we were able to purchase insulin for one tenth of the price we pay here. And here’s another issue. Of that 7.5 million Americans who are using insulin, it turns out—this is unbelievable—one quarter of those people are rationing their insulin.”

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Bernie became passionate. “On this trip (to Canada)—and I’ll never forget this as long as I live—a young guy and his mother, a big guy, a former football player—he lied to his parents when he was in college in telling them he had enough insulin. Because he didn’t want to put more financial pressure on them. He became sick. When you don’t take your insulin you become sick. And if you continue doing that, you die. One quarter of the American people are rationing their insulin. Last year, Mike, the top ten drug companies made $69 billion in profit.”

“Is it the function of health care to provide quality care for all, or to make huge profits for the drug companies and insurance companies?”

“At the end of his life,” Sanders recalled, “Dr. King was standing with some of the most exploited black workers in America. He put together the Poor People’s Campaign, bringing together blacks, poor whites, Native Americans and Latinos, calling for fundamental change in national priorities.”

Killer Mike responded: “Yours is the only policy I have seen in my lifetime, that matches up with the policy of what was the Poor People’s Campaign.…If we pass up our opportunity, we’ll be sitting around the campfire ‘cause they nuked the world.”

Watch the whole discussion, full of laughter, on Youtube: “Killer Mike and Bernie Sanders 2020."

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Also recommended: “Bernie X and Cardi B”, at the Ten Nail Bar.

Paul Rockwell