Another day, another hiccup in Bernie Sanders‘ latest presidential campaign. An old video has surfaced of the senator from Vermont using the word “niggardly.” While the adjective that dates back to the mid-16th century is not at all linked the N-word, by 1986, when the video was recorded, someone who considered himself to be a civil rights leader should have known better.
In talking about social services, then Burlington, Vermont, Mayor Sanders said, “I am not going to be niggardly about funding for daycare.”
The word technically means stingy, but a little more than a decade after Sanders uttered the word, some controversy began around the word.
David Howard, then an aide to Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams, used the word in a 1999 speech and he resigned over it. Julian Bond, the chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at the time, spoke out against the backlash, saying, “You hate to think you have to censor your language to meet other people’s lack of understanding. David Howard should not have quit. Mayor Williams should bring him back—and order dictionaries issued to all staff who need them.”
On the other hand, Sanders has had many missteps with the Black community over the past few months. He came under fire back in November while discussing Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams running for governor.
“I think you know there are a lot of white folks out there who are not necessarily racist who felt uncomfortable for the first time in their lives about whether or not they wanted to vote for an African-American,” Sanders said in an interview with The Daily Beast.
NPR reported that “Sanders’ spokesman insists those remarks were taken out of context.”
Aside from that, Sanders has also struggled while discussing the topic of reparations for descendants of slavery, saying as recently as last month that “It depends on what the word [reparations] means.”
One month earlier, Sanders seemed to culturally appropriate Frederick Douglass‘ good name by conflating the abolitionist’s famous words — “If there is no struggle, there is no progress” — with “the greed of Wall Street, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry, the NRA, the military-industrial-complex and other special interests.” The obvious omission was any mention of civil rights, voting rights or race, all of which Douglass’ quote was referring to.
With that in mind, scroll down to see how Twitter users reacted to Sanders’ use of the word “niggardly.”