The shift is largely a response to Trump. His words and actions on issues infused with race — from NFL players protesting police violence during the national anthem, to proposing a ban on all Muslim immigration, to family separations at the southern border — have roused Democratic activists to demand a full-throated response, according to interviews with dozens of progressive activists and aides to several potential 2020 candidates.
“I think people on the left are really looking for someone that can take on corporate power and eradicate systemic racism,” said Karthik Ganapathy, who served as a spokesman for Bernie Sanders during his 2016 presidential run…
The recent, more explicit rhetoric on race among potential 2020 Democratic hopefuls — who, to varying degrees, have addressed racial issues for years — is at least partly strategic. Black voters are likely to be decisive in many 2020 primaries, especially in the South.
“It’s fairly simple–s/he who wins the black vote, wins the primary,” one adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign said in a text message.