Marching for Bernie: Local Organizers Advocate for Bernie and Soci-Economic Justice

A+Bernie+Sanders+supporter+holds+a+rainbow+%22Bernie+for+President+2020%22+sign+while+attending+the+%22March+to+the+Polls%22+event+held+at+Fresno+City+College+on+Monday%2C+March+2.

Photo by: Kiran Kaur

A Bernie Sanders supporter holds a rainbow "Bernie for President 2020" sign while attending the "March to the Polls" event held at Fresno City College on Monday, March 2.

Story By: Kiran Kaur, Reporter

A voice boomed over the megaphone to supporters holding their colorful “Bernie 2020” signs during a March 2 campaign event at Fresno City College.

“[This is a] movement that will not end, no matter what happens tomorrow,” said Alexandria Ramos-O’Casey, regional field director for the Bernie campaign in the Central Valley and Central Coast, as she stood in front of the FCC library during the rally for Super Tuesday. 

The message of socio-economic and environmental justice emphasized by Sanders was well received by the crowd of his supporters and many voters. He went on to win the state’s Democratic presidential primary. 

Ramos-O’Casey highlighted Sanders’ goal to make college debt-free and spoke about the Ram Pantry services available to students at FCC. 

“It is a wake-up call. [Fresno City college is] supposed to be the cheapest option for higher education, why is it that my students are constantly looking to the Ram Pantry for help?” she said. 

Fresno City College’s cost of tuition is 72% cheaper than the national average public two year tuition, according to collegecalc.org.

Kingsburg City Councilwoman Jewel Hurtado joined the march alongside supporters and delivered a speech with Ramos-O’Casey, speaking about her 2-year-old son who has a rare brain disease called TSC for which he needs medication to survive. 

“If we miss this opportunity for Medicare for All, I don’t know what the future will look like for my son,” Hurtado said.  

FCC student Isaiah Williams, also spoke on the megaphone directly to the crowd. “He [Bernie Sanders] really made an effort to include us.”

Elizabeth Lira, field organizer for the Sanders Fresno campaign office, said she was touched by Sanders’s campaign prioritizing the “deeply personal” issue of immigration; pointing to her immigrant parents as an example. 

“It is my moral obligation to help my communities that are hurting, day in and day out,” said Lira.

As the speeches came to a close, Ramos-O’Casey gathered the supporters and led them on the march towards the newly opened voting center in the Old Administration Building. Voters walked arm in arm towards the polling station to drop off their ballots, chanting along the way.  

Many Fresno City College students are no strangers to Bernie Sanders as he visited the campus while campaigning in Nov. of 2019. 

He touched on a number of issues that have been prevalent throughout his campaign such as universal healthcare, education reform, and climate change—all issues that affect the futures of college students. 

Sanders campaign has focused on youth voting and turnout in order to [what he believes will] enact real change. 

According to the California Secretary of State, 78% of Fresno’s population has registered to vote as of March 3rd, 2020 and 14.4% of those were part of the 17.5-25 age range.