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FACT CHECK: Does This Photo Show Bernie Sanders Marching With MLK In 1965?

Brad Sylvester on March 10, 2020

viral Instagram post purportedly shows young Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders marching with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965.


“Bernie marching alongside Martin Luther King Jr in a 1965 Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery,” reads the caption.

Verdict: False

While the man pictured bears some passing resemblance to Sanders in his youth, there is no evidence to suggest it is actually him. Sanders has never claimed to have attended the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march.

Fact Check:

Taken March 26, 1965, the genuine photograph shows King, his wife and other prominent civil rights activists leading thousands of people during the last leg of the Selma-to-Montgomery march. That march, widely considered a watershed moment of the civil rights movement, consisted of a series of demonstrations against black voter suppression.

The viral Instagram post identifies a young white man with glasses and curly hair a few rows behind King as Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

But aside from some physical resemblance to the Vermont senator in his youth, there is no evidence that the man circled is Sanders. The Daily Caller News Foundation didn’t find any record of Sanders claiming to have attended the march in his decades-long political career. In fact, Sanders gave a speech at an event commemorating the march in 2019 and made no mention of being present.

Sanders became involved in social activism during his time at the University of Chicago in the early ’60s, helping organize a sit-in to protest segregated off-campus housing and serving as a student leader of the Congress of Racial Equality. In 1963, he attended the March on Washington, where King delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.

The Sanders campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

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