Bernie Sanders on "The Breakfast Club" is a 'no' on slavery reparations

Fresh off his first rallies of the 2020 campaign, in Brooklyn and Chicago, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday sat down for a studio interview with “The Breakfast Club,” a syndicated radio show that originates on New York’s 105.1 FM and reaches a young, mostly African-American audience.

Co-host Charlamagne tha God opened the 40-minute discussion with a blunt question for the independent senator from Vermont.

“So, Bernie, 44 out of 45 presidents in this country have been white men,” he said. “Do you think we need another one?”

“Well, I think you need this one,” Sanders replied. “We are living in an unprecedented time. We have the most dangerous president in modern history of this country. He is somebody who is a pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe ... this is a bad-news guy.”

Sanders, who formally announced his second bid for the Democratic nomination on Feb. 19, has spent the first few weeks of his campaign tearing into President Trump. Sanders is also making an effort to connect with African-American voters, something he largely failed to do in 2016.

“This time, we’re starting from a different position,” Sanders said the radio show. “We were criticized for being too white, that was a correct criticism. We were criticized for being too male, that was a correct criticism. That’s going to change.”

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Bernie Sanders' 'Medicare for All'
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, speaks during a health care bill news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. Fifteen Senate Democrats are flirting with a single-payer health-care system that would expand Medicare coverage to all Americans, marking a shift within the party on what was once viewed as a politically treacherous issue that attracted little support from lawmakers. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, left, listens as Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, speaks during a health care bill news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. Fifteen Senate Democrats are flirting with a single-payer health-care system that would expand Medicare coverage to all Americans, marking a shift within the party on what was once viewed as a politically treacherous issue that attracted little support from lawmakers. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An attendee wears a Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, campaign t-shirt while holding a sign before the start of a health care bill news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. Fifteen Senate Democrats are flirting with a single-payer health-care system that would expand Medicare coverage to all Americans, marking a shift within the party on what was once viewed as a politically treacherous issue that attracted little support from lawmakers. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, speaks as Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, left, listens during a health care bill news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. Fifteen Senate Democrats are flirting with a single-payer health-care system that would expand Medicare coverage to all Americans, marking a shift within the party on what was once viewed as a politically treacherous issue that attracted little support from lawmakers. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during an event to introduce the "Medicare for All Act of 2017" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
A member of the audience holds up a placard as US Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont, discusses Medicare for All legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on September 13, 2017. The former US presidential hopeful introduced a plan for government-sponsored universal health care, a notion long shunned in America that has newly gained traction among rising-star Democrats. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 13: Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks during Sen. Bernie Sanders' event to introduce the Medicare for All Act of 2017 on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during an event to introduce the "Medicare for All Act of 2017" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during an event to introduce the "Medicare for All Act of 2017" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Members of the audience greet Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during an event to introduce the "Medicare for All Act of 2017" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Attendees hold signs while waiting for a health care bill news conference to begin on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. Fifteen Senate Democrats are flirting with a single-payer health-care system that would expand Medicare coverage to all Americans, marking a shift within the party on what was once viewed as a politically treacherous issue that attracted little support from lawmakers. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 13: The audience waves signs as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during his event to introduce the Medicare for All Act of 2017 on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 13: Supporters watch as U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (R) arrives at an event on health care September 13, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Sen. Sanders held an event to introduce the Medicare for All Act of 2017. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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At his rally Saturday on the campus of Brooklyn College, the self-described democratic socialist railed against the “prison-industrial-complex” that has disproportionately affected people of color. “We are going to end the international embarrassment of having more people in jail than any other country on earth,” Sanders said. “No more private prisons and detention centers. No more profiteering from locking people up. No more ‘war on drugs.’ No more keeping people in jail because they’re too poor to afford cash bail.”

Sanders recalled growing up in a lower-middle-class family in a “three-and-a-half-room rent-controlled apartment” in Brooklyn.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a rally in Brooklyn on Saturday. (Photo: Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

“My mother’s dream was that someday our family would move out of that rent-controlled apartment to a home of our own,” Sanders said. “That dream was never fulfilled. She died young while we were still living in that rent-controlled apartment.”

In Chicago, Sanders recalled his time spent as a student at the University of Chicago, where he took part in sit-ins to protest the school’s segregated housing in the 1960s. He also reflected on taking a bus from Chicago to Washington, D.C., in 1963 to participate in the March on Washington and to hear Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Sanders vowed to end voter suppression.

“It is incomprehensible to me that, in the year 2019, we continue to have a president, a Supreme Court and Republican governors who still are trying to deny people of color and poor people the right to vote,” Sanders said at his Sunday night rally at Chicago’s Navy Pier. “In the last decade, more than 30 states have considered voter suppression laws whose clear intent is to disenfranchise people of color. How pathetic and how cowardly is that?”

He added: “Brothers and sisters, together we will end voter suppression in this country and move to automatic voter registration. We are going to make voting easier, not harder.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a rally in Chicago on Sunday. (Photo: Joshua Lott/Reuters)

Also Sunday, Sanders visited Selma, Ala., to participate in annual events marking 1965’s “Bloody Sunday,” when protesters demanding voting rights for blacks were beaten by a white mob, abetted by police.

While there, Sanders attended a breakfast honoring Hillary Clinton, who defeated him in the 2016 Democratic primary — in part because of support from black voters.

In his “Breakfast Club” interview, Sanders was asked about his position on paying reparations to black Americans for slavery and Jim Crow — something two other candidates, Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have said they would support.

“We have to deal with the fact there is enormous disparity between the black community and the white community,” Sanders said.

But when asked by Charlamagne tha God if he would support “free cash payouts,” Sanders said, “No.”

“Do you mean a check to every African-American? Well, then, that means a check to every Native American that were wiped out when the settlers came,” he said. “I think the way we go forward is to build America together.”

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