Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is making his first campaign stop in Alabama on Monday for a rally to commemorate the birthday of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The rally is open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. in Birmingham’s Historic Boutwell Memorial Auditorium.
Sanders will take the opportunity to discuss how he is “fighting for Dr. King’s ideals,” a man he marched with during the historic “March on Washington” in 1963.
Joining Sanders will be “two champions for economic and racial justice,” Dr. Cornel West and Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner.
“We are excited to have Senator Sanders make a campaign stop in Alabama, and we want to welcome him to our great state,” Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said in a news release. “I am thrilled with how the SEC Primary has developed and what it means for our people to have personal interaction with these candidates.”
With Alabama’s primaries moved to March 1 to be part of the SEC Primary, more presidential candidates have been making stops in the Yellowhammer State to woo voters.
More will likely visit as the field narrows after the Iowa and New Hampshire caucuses, the first in the nation.
“Since the March primary legislation passed, the Democratic front runner and eight of the top Republican candidates have made campaign stops in Alabama, which is unheard of for our state,” Merrill wrote. “As Secretary of State, I will continue to position Alabama and the South as a place where Presidential candidates are willing to make an effort to visit and meet our remarkable people.”
Rumors suggest that the Sanders campaign is also planning a stop in Montgomery at Alabama State University as part of the candidate’s tour of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), though no date has been set for that event.
“If this shows anything, it shows that Alabama is a state that everyone wants to do well in,” Merrill said. “Mr. Sanders wasn’t expected to make a stop here, so we are very excited to have him.”