Why were activists upset?
Some attendees of the convention, organized by the Women’s March, objected to the group inviting Sanders to headline the event, which is scheduled Oct. 27-29 in Detroit.
Tamika Mallory, co-founder of Women’s March, told USA Today earlier this month that Sanders is a “powerful” ally on “progressive issues, women’s issues, mobilizing millennials.
“He is really in line with the principles of the Women’s March,” Mallory said.
Some activists argued that a woman should headline the event, or objected to Sanders’ inclusion at the convention because he challenged former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.
So… there were no women available … to open the womens convention…? https://t.co/m1QDj2KX4N
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) October 12, 2017
A white dude is delivering the opening speech at the first women’s convention in 40 years.
Such progress. Wow. https://t.co/WNmVznMo9K
— Imani “too many goddamn Nazis around here” Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) October 12, 2017
In a statement earlier this week, a spokesperson for the Women’s March said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) will open the first evening of the convention.
The spokesperson acknowledged that “our announcement gave the impression that [Sanders] is occupying a central role at the convention” but said “it is important to correct the record: Senator Sanders is not opening or headlining the Women’s Convention.”
— Women's March (@womensmarch) October 17, 2017
What did Sanders say?
In a statement provided to USA Today, Sanders said he will visit Puerto Rico to see recovery efforts instead.
“Given the emergency situation in Puerto Rico, I will be traveling there to visit with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and other officials to determine the best way forward to deal with the devastation the island is experiencing,” Sanders said. “The U.S. Congress cannot turn its back on the millions of people in Puerto Rico who, four weeks after the hurricane, are still without electricity, food and running water.”