Feedback
News

Charleston Voters Rally For Candidates at Clyburn’s Fish Fry

Image: Supporters wave signs and shout while they wait for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton
Supporters wave signs and shout while they wait for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton to arrive at the Jim Clyburn Fish Fry, on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, at the Charleston Visitor Center in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) Stephen B. Morton / AP

CHARLESTON, South Carolina -- Joyce Coleman, a retired educator from Norfolk, Virginia, sat outside Rep. James Clyburn's annual fish fry Saturday night clutching a sign that read: "African Americans for Hillary."

When asked why she supports Hillary Clinton for president, Coleman didn't miss a beat.

"I trust Hillary," Coleman said with conviction. "My president brought her into his Cabinet [as Secretary of State] and that means something to me."

Coleman said she moved to Charleston and is preparing to open an all-boys charter school, the Prestige Preparatory Academy, later this year.

Image: Clinton waves as she is announced on the stage during Jim Clyburn's Annual Fish Fry in Charleston
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves as she is announced on the stage during Jim Clyburn's Annual Fish Fry in Charleston, South Carolina January 16, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane CHRIS KEANE / Reuters

She enthusiastically supports President Barack Obama's signature initiative, "My Brother's Keeper," which was created to uplift black boys and young men of color.

"If someone can carry that message of ‘My Brother's Keeper’ after the president leaves office, it's Hillary," Coleman said. "And that's important."

While Coleman waited for her husband to pull the car around, throngs of Democrats -- blacks and whites -- gathered at the Charleston Visitor Center for music, an old-school political rally -- and fried fish.

RELATED: A Tale of Two Cities in Charleston, Backdrop for Dem Debate

Clinton and Sanders supporters handed out posters and stickers to promote their respective candidates, and, of course, folks also gave out Clyburn stickers, too.

Clyburn, the third ranking Democrat in the House and one of the longest-serving legislators in Congress, hosts the fish fry every year, but because of Sunday's Democratic presidential debate, it was the first time the event was held in Charleston. (It's usually held in Columbia, South Carolina.)

As folks lined up for fried fish, actor Stephen Bishop, who stars in the hit TV show "Being Mary Jane," posed for photos with fans while wearing a Bernie Sanders button.

"I'm 'Feeling the Bern!'" said Bishop, quoting Sanders' campaign slogan. "I'm on Bernie's squad because I like what he's doing with veterans, racial equality and economic equality."

Sen. Sanders, the self-described socialist from Vermont, is trying to make inroads among African Americans and his message of income inequality and criminal justice reform is resonating with some black folks like Bishop.

"We have to take care of each other and that's what Bernie wants to do," Bishop said.

Martin O'Malley, the former Maryland governor, also attended the fish fry. O'Malley is averaging between 1% and 3% in most major polls but he's determined to forge ahead despite the sagging numbers.

Earlier in the day, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, was fired-up during a women's roundtable panel here the day before Sunday's Democratic presidential debate.

Wasserman Schultz said the hard-core right wing of the Republican Party is fanatical, "dogmatic," and embraces the misguided Tea Party ideology. She said her job is to make sure a Democrat wins the White House in November.

"You're damn right I'm going to sound the alarm bell," Wasserman Schultz told the group at the College of Charleston. "We can't afford to be complacent."