When Bernie Promised to #SayHerName #SandraBland

To put your money where your mouth is and support Sandra’s family go to the Sandra Bland Legal Fund; keep track of the movement at SandySpeaksOn.com

“That’s Bernie Sanders,” my sister said, indicating an unpretentious man with a full head of white hair that had slipped past me and tucked himself into a table in the shadowy corner of East Street Cafe, a Thai restaurant in Washington DC’s Union Station.

“Really? Are you sure?” I asked her doubtfully, as I took another bite of my basil chicken across the table from Ms. Geneva Reed-Veal. For better or for worse, he was not a man who had quite the signature look that more polished politicians cultivate; which is probably part of his charm.

IMG_0746 (2)I honestly was not sure if it really was him, but my sister has been working around DC politicians for almost 20 years, so I took her word for it. “Someone should go talk to him. You know he has been saying Sandra Bland’s name for months. Someone should tell him you guys are here.”

I find it wise to do what my big sister tells me on the rare occasion that she tries to exert her seniority, so I pulled my chair back from the table and walked across the restaurant.

“Hello, I’m sorry, are you Mr. Sanders?” I asked.

“I am,” he replied.

“Well, I’m just over there having dinner with the mother of Sandra Bland and I thought maybe you’d like to meet her.”

“Yes, please,” he replied.

I got up to walk back towards our table only to see that Shante, Sandra’s oldest sister, was already headed towards me. She is a woman who knows how to get things accomplished, so I was not surprised to see her coming after me to see if I needed support.

Bringing Ms. Geneva back over to the table, I felt my body trembling. The trembling continued as Ms. Geneva sat down next to Senator Sanders and they began to talk. I was not trembling out of fear or out of being star-struck, it was more that I was completely blown away by the unexpectedness of it all, the sacredness of the moment, and the sincerity of all involved. You do not often get to witness moments like that. Moments when agendas are laid aside and people who might not otherwise ever have the chance to connect without cameras watching can simply honor one another’s pain and humanity.

Sandra Bland
Sandra Bland

“What happened to your daughter is inexcusable,” he said. “We are broken, and this has exposed us.” He then continued by promising that he would continue to #SayHerName #SandraBland and would not give up in the pursuit of justice.

The spontaneity of the moment lent sincerity to words unrehearsed, phrases unplanned, in an interaction that was never supposed to take place.

We asked Senator Sanders if we could take a picture with him and he consented. He did not impose upon Ms. Geneva to ask for a picture of his own. He did not use the moment as an opportunity to promote his campaign. He took no record, he made no statement. He did not try to turn it into a publicity stunt. He simply made space for a sacred moment, and then let it pass without trying to gain anything from it. Version 3

For that, I respect him. For that, I am grateful. That choice may not have made him a very good politician, but it made him a better man.

When we sat back down at the table, I put my head in my hands and simply continued to gentle shake. “Is she okay?” Shante asked. “Yes, she’s fine,” her mother replied, “she is just blown away.”

There have been so many moments along this journey, so very many moments, when God simply astonished me. When something happened that was so delicately balanced in the table of time that it gave me confidence that there was something truly important happening, something truly historic, something truly sacred, as the continuing story of Sandra Bland unfolds.

When each sacred moment appears and passes, it gives me renewed hope and confidence that the legacy of Sandra Bland’s struggle for justice is making it’s eternal mark in this world.

Senator Sanders was right. Her death was inexcusable; yet her legacy moves forward without yielding.

*Five days later, in the first Democratic Presidential Debate, Senator Bernie Sanders kept his promise to #SayHerName #SandraBland 

Sandra Bland
Sandra Bland


91 thoughts on “When Bernie Promised to #SayHerName #SandraBland”

    1. God, indeed, does know Sandra Bland’s name and this makes all the difference. Bravo for Mr. Sanders sincerity and faithfulness. Once more instance when those of us who are “sisters” know we have special bond.

  1. Bernie Sanders needs to be President. He is truly a man that cares for the rights of others and not one that worships the almighty dollar. Thanks for sharing that heart warming story of your encounter with “a man of the people”.

  2. I live in Vermont. I’m the last person you’d expect to support a Democratic Socialist”. But, I do support Bernie. He is an honest man, a good man, a leader, not a politician. #FeelTheBern

  3. I’m a Sanders supporter and I remember when he was asked about Sandra dying in her jail cell he said he didn’t sleep well that night because he was disturbed by it. Black lives matter and I think Bernie will be the ONLY candidate to improve them. $15 min wage, free public college, Medicare, and he’s the only Democratic candidate who does not accept donations form the Private Prison lobby. Let’s just hope he wins the nomination.

  4. The rage i feel when i see video after video of minorities being abused and murdered is indescribable! I grew up poor and in the guetto and police brutality was part of the culture. Now as a grown up i look back at the beatings i took and all the police abuse i received and i can’t quench my thirst for justice! This is the begining of a revolution for justice and equality and we will have our day! I look at this moment as a moment that was pre written to give you hope. A moment that was to be the catalyst for a determined reighteous man and a griecing mother to share and use as their kindle to light the raging fire of purpose and focus! Thank you for sharing this.

    1. I totally agree with you. But one thing I would like to see is the word ” minorities ” replaced by “American Citizens!” That is what the #Blacklivesmatter movement, in my opinion, brings to my heart. Blacks are Americans and deserved to be treated as such.

    2. I’m so sorry about the way you’ve been mistreated & beaten. In ways that I can, I share your deep thirst for justice.
      Love & kindness,

  5. I can’t understand why but this story made me so emotional. I can feel the grief of Sandra Bland’s mother and I can feel the sincerity of Bernie Sander. Very touching and no politics involve I just respect more Bernie for being a man of word and a man of character. My deepest sympathy to Sandra’s family.

  6. Thank you for sharing this. It’s important that we work for a better world and come together for justice. Simply beautiful.

  7. I’m so sorry for your pain. Senator Bernie Sanders is authentic and honest, I pray he becomes our next president.

  8. Bernie is probably the only politician who wouldn’t try to exploit this type of encounter. This story only reaffirms why I like him.

  9. We could now use your voice, their story to spread the word about this unique opportunity in time. A time where a political revolution. Please, you and Ms. Bland’s family would be a treasured voice in our fight to get Senator Sanders elected as our next President. Thank you in advance.

  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing. It’s good to be reminded that Bernie Sanders cares, and is fighting for all of us, and that we should never tire in supporting him and working to take him all the way. I, for one, will never forget what happened to #SandraBland, and will #SayHerName out loud and often.

  11. What a wonderful moment. Thank you for sharing and it is refreshing to know that every politician doesn’t exploit moments of humanity.
    Sen. Sanders has been fighting for us his entire career. I’ve been behind him for almost three decades.
    All of us need to #Sayhername. RIP Sandra

  12. Bernie Sanders is an honorable man. I would vote for him were I able. I would be proud to call this man my POTUS.

  13. What an AMAZING behind the scenes story of a truly remarkable, synchronicity in time. Sandra Bland and Bernie Sanders. These names are now entwined in America’s political consciousness. Much appreciation for the sharing of this very personal and insightful view of Bernie with no media around to give their spun version. Thank you.

  14. Thank you so much for posting. You did not have to. You could have kept this moment sacred for yourself and that would have been wonderful, as well. Bernie Sanders has faults… everyone does. But stories like this keep informing us little by little the kind of person he is. And the kind of person you are. For writing about this private, overwhelming exchange. Sacred is exactly right.

  15. This gave me chills. You are an astonishing writer, first of all. Secondly, your small meet with Mr. Sanders was definitely a God moment. I have watched the video of Sandra Bland many times over the last few months trying to figure out exactly what happened, what could have happened, what went wrong. I am dumbfounded by what is happening in our, OUR, America today. Bernie Sanders is the one who will fight to hand this country back to it’s people, and I believe this moment, this small glimpse of time with you and your family, is proof of his genuine concern and support for all Americans. God Bless You in your journey for the truth. We, the people, are behind you and walking right next to you for the entirety of it all.

  16. Such a moving and beautiful story, if only all the world knew. This is one of those magical things that cannot be just a coincidence. Bernie Sanders is a deeply honorable man. I sincerely hope that through the power of the people, we can make this man our president. 💛

  17. Wow this is so incredible, the human and genuine nature of this man is one of the reasons why I’m voting for him.

  18. I Love You Sandra~ You will live in in our hearts and in the change the tragedy of your death shall bring~
    I Love Sandra’s brave and grieving family~You raised a courageous heroic woman~
    Thanks be to God for this opportunity, his intervention of this divine moment~
    Hannah~Bless Your Brave and loving heart for your Vigil and your courageous efforts on Sandra Blands behalf~
    My deepest condolences to Sandra Blands family~such a staggering loss of a brilliant,Powerful, lovely Special Angel ~

    And Bernie~You are everything we need ~
    Everything that is good and kind and decent~
    You are the Incandescence of truth born from love of all humanity~
    Love in action~
    We are all proud to say your name~
    And give our all for the ideals you have lived your life working tirelessly to uphold~
    #Say Her Name#Sandra Bland~

  19. What a moving narrative about a gracious encounter! It illustrates well the character of the man who would be President.

  20. I am shaking as I write this. I feel as if from a distance I have witnessed holy ground. I have always respected Senator Sanders.; my husband met him on the elevator going to the same activists’ meeting in Burlington. I am even more amazed by him now, for his integrity, for his respecting the holiness of a God moment. I do have to say I am glad this incident has become public, so more people will know what an amazing man Bernie Sanders is. He’s come a long way from the Netroots interruption.

  21. This is bringing tears to my eyes. Again, actually. It’s still too hard to think about how her mom and other moms feel, there is no reason for these things. Thank you for sharing this story. Maybe we can finally stop this madness.

  22. This brought me to tears, again. I cannot imagine being a mother losing a child like this. It should never have been this way, for any mother. Thank you for sharing the story, and giving us a glimpse of a leader who could help us stop this madness. Sandra Bland and her family, deserve it.

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  24. Hannah, Your story about humanity at it’s best is very Touching. I was at the verge of tears as I read it. I am so grateful for writing about this quiet beautiful moment of connection. All who have read this have felt that connection. My heart goes out to Sandra’s mother. The fact that she connected with an old white jewish man (and he with her) is proof that humanity survives even in the darkest of times in our lives. Bravo to Sandra’s mother for being so open. Peace be with us all.

  25. Thank you Bernie. Thank you Hannah for sharing and keeping the point of Sandra’s reality of Black Lives Matter alive. I admit that during the Black Lives Matter’s planned disruption during the Netroots Nation that I was suspicious. You could not hear “understanding” from the live feed without background knowledge. It was an annoyance of un-understanding and confusion. What is happening? Why? And trying to put those answers together without more information and being left to my own devises was a place of suspicion of motivation. Our brains try to fit what we do not understand. From that point on I sought understanding. It was quick. It was amazing how much was out there and growing by the day of obscene videos of horrible atrocities by the police toward black people. I saw an error in training. I saw errors in perception. I saw errors in awareness. I saw fight or flight reactions on both sides with adrenaline and fear. I saw humans who had poor poor training for the jobs they were doing. I saw police overstepping their use of force because they did not like how they were questioned or being spoke to as if they had the right to punish contempt of court right there in the streets with an exasperation that their time was being wasted while reacting as if the person had no right to be upset, mad, confused, expressive. Zero understanding that a human will try and relieve themselves from a painful grip which our brains in dangerous or painful situations are designed to do, unless in a situation promoting calm and trust. Only a skilled yogi or martial arts master would be able to super consciously relax in a hostile situation and make a twisted arm go slack. In a world where we have so much social psychology studies, and places that do good training, I saw a break down in the system. When I worked in New Jersey at a school for seriously emotionally disturbed children we practiced non-abusive physical and verbal intervention weekly. Over and over so that when we were in the situation, which happened a lot, it was as automatic as possibly as far as the do no harm. We were yelled at. Questioned on the directions we gave. Quietly defied or loudly defied. Mocked. Spoke flippant to. Called names. They exercised all of the freedom of speech rights. There were kids who had emotional and physical freak outs and others just having a bad day. We had to back off and give space when someone was having their own confusion, their own emotions, despite if they were not following the course we wanted in that moment. Despite if it disrupted what was in the schedule. We had to know that there are “normal” reactions in situations that are not always convenient, but that are human. In other instances we were spit on. We had kids make weapons out of what they could get their hands on. We had angry outbursts, taunting and fights between kids. Ages 4-21. We had to be able to physically intervene without injury. With trust. With compassion. And I was left riddled with adrenaline and the shakes after every intervention especially if they took me to control my awareness, my verbal engagement and what I was doing, my physical movement, advancement and muscle tension for periods of 1/2 hour or more to make sure I was not harming anyone or escalating anyone. I would not have been able to do it without repetitive training. My point is toward the Black Lives Matters planned disruption, I didn’t know. And wasn’t that part of the point. And the disruption created the desire to make my brain sort out the confusion. The discussions between myself and my boyfriend led to the same position so eloquently summed up by Elizabeth Warren. And if I could come to that conclusion myself in a couple of weeks as to the point, the problem and the reason why “Sometimes it is important to cause necessary trouble”, then others would be coming to this conclusion. The police need help in taking a look at their reactions, their own inability to deal appropriately and emotionally with not getting the easy or compliantly toned reaction they want. Their inability to see a valuable person in the moment of their own garbage of physical, emotional and sensory input. They need a training with how to manage their own actions and emotions during engagements. A body camera will not give them this. It could put them in harms way with fear of the repercussions of appearance or just go to show how much more absurdly unskilled they are with these engagement. And the training needs to be done with trainers and human ‘dummies’ dressed in different socioeconomic clothes and of different races so that the police can start to see their own reactions and make goals of areas they need to improve on. Only through our own awareness do we improve. We can deny no longer that we are part of the problem either in ignorance or action.

  26. It takes a good man to make a better politician. Good men are what we are lacking in our government.
    Yes, this was a divine meeting.
    May God Bless you all.
    Sandra deserved better.

  27. Thank you for sharing this. May your dear sister Sandra Bland rest in power. Let’s all continue to say her name.

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