Students lined up around South Road as early as 3 p.m., prepared to wait two hours for the rally to start. Excitement grew with each introductory speaker, and the crowd chanted, "Bernie beats Trump!" leading up to the main event.
Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders held a rally Thursday at the Bell Tower Amphitheater. Sanders spoke about his stances on health care, climate change and free college tuition.
Attendees, volunteers and featured speakers emphasized Sanders’ longstanding commitment to progressive ideals. They said this was a key difference between him and other candidates.
Former Senator and current Sanders campaign co-chairNina Turner spoke about Sanders' activism as a college student.
“He don’t have to pretend to be for the people. He didn’t just start standing up for the people,” Turner said. “For many of you who are here today, Bernie Sanders has been on the justice journey when he was just your age at the University of Chicago, standing up against housing discrimination and segregation. He put something on the line then, and baby, he putting something on the line now.”
Sophomore Udhay Khullar said Sanders’ ideals make him excited about America’s future.
“He was the first one to preach it," Khullar said. "He was preaching it when nobody else was and he’s the reason that the conversation shifted as dramatically as it did. He’s the OG of progressive ideals.”
Other speakers included Ben Cohen, campaign co-chair and Ben and Jerry’s co-founder; actor Danny Glover; activist Phillip Agnew; UNC alumnus Adolph Reed Jr.; and Alana Edwards, president of the UNC Young Democrats.
Sanders began his speech by asking the audience for their support in his venture to win the primary in North Carolina, win the Democratic nomination and defeat President Donald Trump.