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CHARLESTON, South Carolina — From the moment the doors opened for Rep. James Clyburn’s annual fish fry last week, a group of black women spotted — and surrounded — a Hollywood star.

“He’s over there!” one woman shouted as she quickly pulled out her phone to take a photo.

Stephen Bishop, who plays David on the hit BET television show, Being Mary Jane, was balancing a plate fried fish — but he didn’t come to the fish fry just for the food: Bishop is a staunch, unapologetic supporter of Bernie Sanders.

Bishop proudly wore a Sanders button while he worked the crowd during Clyburn’s (D-SC) fish fry, just before the Democratic presidential debate.

“I’m ‘Feeling the Bern!’ ” said Bishop, quoting Sanders’ new campaign slogan. “I’m on Bernie’s squad because I like what he’s doing with veterans, racial equality and economic equality.”

Bishop is not alone. Sanders’ message on income inequality and criminal justice reform is resonating with many Black voters but it’s unclear whether Sanders can beat Clinton in the Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. Polls show a tight contest in Iowa and New Hampshire, but Clinton is far ahead of Sanders among Black voters in South Carolina.

So will enough Black folks turn out for Sanders?

Only time will tell whether star power like Bishop – and other actors and musicians — can help Sanders win the White House. It certainly can’t hurt. But during the fish fry, the most obvious supporters of Clinton were Black and most supporters of Sanders were white — with the exception of Bishop.

Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist from Vermont, is courting Black voters aggressively because he knows Hillary Clinton enjoys tremendous national support in the African-American community. Eric Holder, the former U.S. Attorney General, has campaigned with Clinton in recent days.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) has also endorsed Sanders. Ellison, so far, is the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to offer Sanders public support. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, has endorsed Clinton.

Bernie Sanders Has Black Supporters, But Are There Enough To Beat Hillary Clinton?  was originally published on

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