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After Win In New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders Meets With Rev. Al Sharpton

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

African-American voters are a big part of the Democratic Party, but they did not play a big role in either the Iowa or New Hampshire primary contests. That is about to change in future primaries. Today, candidate Bernie Sanders visited Reverend Al Sharpton in New York, as NPR's Joel Rose reports.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: The morning after his first primary victory, Bernie Sanders made a pilgrimage to Sylvia's, a soul food restaurant that's been a fixture of Harlem politics for decades.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Feel the Bern'. Feel the Bern'. Feel the Bern'.

ROSE: Screaming fans, including fourth-graders from a local charter school, greeted Sanders as he shook hands with Sharpton on the sidewalk. Sanders smiled and waved in his rumpled black overcoat. Then they met privately for about 20 minutes. Afterwards, Sharpton offer no endorsement, but he did praise Sanders for showing up.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AL SHARPTON: In January of next year, for the first time in American history, a black family will be moving out of the White House. I do not want black concerns to be moved out with them. And Senator Sanders coming here this morning further makes it clear that we will not be ignored. Our votes must be earned.

ROSE: Sanders didn't take any questions from reporters, but he sent a clear signal that he wants to improve his standing with African-American voters. Sanders' rival for the Democratic nomination needs no introduction in Harlem. Hillary Clinton represented New York in the Senate, and her husband's foundation had its headquarters in the neighborhood for a decade.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BILL PERKINS: There is an impression that this is Clinton land, and it's not.

ROSE: Bill Perkins represents Harlem in the State Senate, and he's endorsing Sanders. Perkins thinks the Vermont senator has more support with African-American voters than polls suggest, voters like Janine Buckley (ph) of Manhattan.

JANINE BUCKLEY: I love Bern'. I love him. He's talking about the working people and people who doesn't have money and the people struggling and the young people that are growing up.

ROSE: But Clinton still has her share of support here, too.

SYLVIA RICHARDSON: Hillary is going to take it. Trust me. She's going to take it.

ROSE: Sylvia Richardson (ph) was born and raised in Harlem.

RICHARDSON: There's no longer middle-class. There's poor, and there's rich. And she understand that in order for us to have equality, things have to change.

ROSE: Reverend Al Sharpton says there's another meeting planned between civil rights leaders and Hillary Clinton here next week. Joel Rose, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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