BERNIE SANDERS IN ABQ
Natives in regalia, youngsters with and without tattoos, Latinos with babies in their laps, Anglos and African Americans, and a few supporters with their dogs in their laps. 9,000 Nuevo Mexicanos crammed the Albuquerque Civic Center to hear the most progressive politician of my generation speak. The hall rocked with cheers with almost every one of Bernie’s proclamations, the loudest when the candidate called for an end to all fracking, the complete over haul of the criminal justice system, and his repeated call for an economic “revolution” to preserve our democracy. Among the sea of printed signs held aloft in the very New Mexican crowd was my favorite, “FUCK TRUMP”.
When Nancy and I went back stage to meet the candidate most likely to defeat Trump, Bernie and I hadn’t seen each other in fifty years. Sanders was a campus activist when I was the campus photographer at the University of Chicago in 1962. And his CORE led sit-in was the first action for civil rights I would ever photograph.
When we were introduced his first comment was “Oh my God!” followed by, ‘your camera was much bigger then.” Shamefully I was holding a digital Cannon G12. As Jane Sanders watched and Nancy took pictures, Bernie put his hand on my shoulder and asked, “How is Ira?” We not only shared an early determination to change America, we shared a great roommate, Ira Churgin. Ira and Bernie went to James Madison High School in Brooklyn and when both went to the University of Chicago, they became roommates. Ira, whose father was a green grocer in Brooklyn, remains one of my close friends today, as we also shared an apartment when we were students in Hyde Park. Ira would become a public defender in Chicago.
Nostalgia aside, today our country faces an unprecedented threat to democracy, and Bernie Sanders, the once young agitator from the University of Chicago, remains our greatest hope for change.