Photo Essay photo essay

Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders returned to Brooklyn, where he was born, to kick off his 2020 presidential campaign on Saturday. At Brooklyn College, where he spent his freshman year, Sanders emphasized progressive ideas of anti-bigotry, accountability for corporate greed and rights for the working class that have defined his political career and already pushed other Democratic hopefuls to the left.

“Thank you all for being part of a political revolution which is going to transform America,” he said. The crowd applauded and began chanting his name: “Bernie! Bernie!”

“No, no, no, it is not Bernie; it is us together,” Sanders responded.

A frontrunner in a crowded Democratic field, Sanders has succeeded in pushing health care reforms, particularly Medicare-for all, from a fringe issue to a major 2020 litmus test. His push for a $15 minimum wage and support for unions comes as a wave of teacher strikes shows burgeoning labor strength.

Often hesitant to discuss his own background, Sanders told the crowd that his upbringing as the son of a lower-middle class Jewish immigrant from Poland informed his politics.

“I know where I came from, and that is something I will never forget,” he said.

Sanders went on to juxtapose his upbringing to Donald Trump’s: “I did not have a father who gave me millions of dollars to build luxury skyscrapers and casinos and country clubs. … But I had something more valuable: I had the role model of a father who had unbelievable courage in journeying across an ocean, with no money in his pocket to start a new and better life.”

Sanders has already seen unprecedented levels of small donations from supporters, something that fits with his message of opposition to elite control. In the first 24 hours after he announced his campaign, Sanders raised $5.9 million from 223,000 donors from all 50 states. In the first week, he raised $10 million.

“Today I welcome you to a campaign which tells the powerful special interests who control so much of our economic and political life that we will no longer tolerate the greed of corporate America and the billionaire class,” Sanders said.

Truthdig correspondent Michael Nigro was live at the event. Below is his photo essay.

Watch the full speech here:

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