Photos by Abbie Parr
DENVER — Green-haired teens with flower crowns, potbellied graying men with baseball caps and young parents with a red-white-and-blue-clad infant all stood close to each other.
The bizarre assortment of around 18,000 people had packed the Colorado Convention Center, standing for hours, all waiting to see the same man — Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
The “Future to Believe In” Denver rally kicked off with local bands The Samples and Flobots, and after several speakers, the presidential hopeful stepped up to the podium to greet the noisy crowd.
“This looks to me like a group of people who are prepared to make a political revolution,” Sanders said to the crowd.
He said he appreciated how much has changed in the past 9 month of his campaign, and he quickly jumped into the responsibility of the people in social movements.
He celebrated the rise of the union worker, desegregation, the rise of women’s rights and more recently, the rise of gay rights. Sanders attributed all these historical progresses to the effort of hard-working citizens.
“No real change happens from the top down,” Sanders said. “It always occurs from the bottom up.”
With that in mind, Sanders called the crowd’s attention to the next issue to deal with: the problem of an unequal economy. Sanders told the crowd that the inequality in the American economy is the worst it has been since 1929.
He then jumped into the talking points audiences have been seeing for past few months. Sanders discussed a broken election system, the importance of free education, the use of a tax on Wall Street speculation to pay for it, student debt, jobs, a raise in the minimum wage, universal health care and climate change.
Aside from a light-hearted comment about marijuana and a reminder of the March 1 caucus, Sanders did not say much to specifically address Colorado. Many of his points were seen on Thursday night in the second Democratic debate — which is not to say they were not valid points in Colorado.
The crowd cheered when Sanders said that the Walmart family needed to get off welfare, in reference to welfare their employees need as a result of unlivable wages.
The promise not to defund planned parenthood, but to expand it, received a long cheer.
Sanders also addressed incarceration rates and free education.
“Together we are going to invest in education and jobs for our kids,” he said. “Not more jails, not more incarnation.”
Resounding boos followed Sander’s mention of the “Donald Trumps of the world,” who, as he said, are trying to divide us and use Mexicans and Muslims as scapegoats.
The senator ended his speech by painting a picture of a united America. He told the crowd that nothing he was talking about was utopian or pie in the sky. Sanders warned his enthusiastic crowd of Coloradans what happens when the people allow themselves to be divided.
“Divide, divide, divide, the rich get richer and everybody else gets poorer,” Sanders said.
Collegian Reporter Tatiana Talesnick-Parafiniuk can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tatianasophiapt.