Bernie Sanders and rapper ‘Killer Mike’ talk race, faith and hurt in America

Sasha Pereznik/ABC News

(ATLANTA) — Before he took the stage in front of thousands, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, wheeled his worn gym bag and suitcase into the Renaissance Marriott in Atlanta.

Meeting him there for an intimate talk was renowned rapper and activist “Killer Mike” Michael Render, who has long supported Sanders, and said he’s the only person who can defeat Donald Trump. Saturday, they walked down the hall side-by-side for a private discussion.

ABC News was one of the only media outlets to witness the one-on-one.

“I catch a lot of flak for supporting an old Jewish guy,” Render half-joked. “And you’ve caught flak — your campaign — for supporting validation by a rapper from the South Point. We’ve both taken some nicks for each other.”

The two met in an empty carpeted room, sounding like old battle buddies as they talked about some of the most prescient issues of the 2020 election: socioeconomic racial injustice, health care, millionaires and billionaires and white supremacy.

Render thanked Sanders wryly for not being “one of those white guys” like Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, who doesn’t understand the continuing racial divide in America, according to Render. He said Republicans feel like, “We gave you Obama, and freedom. … That’s enough.”

McConnell rejected the need for reparations for ancestors of slaves in June, saying, “We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation, by electing an African American president.”

The pair’s eloquence belied the rawness of the issues at hand. Sanders was keen to talk about his touchstone health care issues: Medicare for All, diabetics rationing their insulin and his recent trip to Canada.

“It’s not just Trump and his policies. It’s what he thinks, because he thinks human life is — you rob, you steal, you cheat, you step on people — and you make a billion dollars,” Sanders said. “You’re talking about a very, very different subset, right? We don’t have to step over people sleeping on the sidewalk, our kids going to college education, that is what we are showing them.”

“An opportunity!” Render said.

“Opportunity,” Sanders said, “exactly.”

They spoke on health care, the private prison complex, education and casting an eye around the world for inspiration in America.

Render sympathized with Sanders, saying the candidate’s been called a socialist and it’s easy for Trump and the GOP at large to hang the albatross label around much of the progressive left’s neck.

“You have inspired me,” Render said.

“You’re gonna have to reinspire me! ‘Cause I like this stuff,” Sanders said.

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