Ben Bartlett was recently endorsed by Juanita Jones Abernathy, an influential figure in the Civil Rights Movement, for the competitive 15th District seat in the California Assembly.
Abernathy is the widow of Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, who worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement. She participated in the 1963 March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965. In 1957, she survived after white supremacists bombed her home.
District 15 includes Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Hercules, Oakland, Piedmont, Pinole, Richmond and San Pablo.
In 1966, Abernathy, her husband and Dr. King chose to move to a slum in Chicago, the largest racially segregated city in the United States, to protest the poor quality of housing for people of color. She has now become a public speaker in order to share her experiences and promote equality.
“The fact that someone like that would recognize our efforts is really encouraging,” Bartlett said.
Bartlett, a Berkeley City Council member and Berkeley native, said he is concerned about affordable housing and inequality and hopes that his campaign can provide a counterbalance to “powerful elites.”
“Ben Bartlett is at the vanguard of a new generation of leaders who are fighting in the best tradition of the Civil Rights Movement to preserve and advance freedom and opportunity for all Americans,” Abernathy said in a press release. “I enthusiastically endorse his candidacy for the California Assembly.”
Bartlett said Abernathy is a powerful figure to be endorsing him because many of the issues that she fought for are still relevant today.
“She confronted American colonists and white supremacy every day of her life,” Bartlett said. “Her voice is still resonate today, because the same issues that she talks about are centered in the East Bay, racial inequity, displacement, the disempowerment of the political voices of people of color.”
A previous version of a headline accompanying this article misspelled Ben Bartlett’s name.