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Former NAACP president Ben Jealous backs Bernie Sanders

Benjamin Jealous
Benjamin Jealous (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Benjamin Jealous, the former head of the NAACP and a Baltimore native, formally endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Friday -- giving a boost to a campaign that has occasionally struggled to connect with African American voters.

Jealous, a 43-year-old Silver Spring resident, was widely credited with expanding the advocacy mission and improving the finances of the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 2008 to 2013.

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He has occasionally been considered a candidate for office and briefly flirted with a run for Senate in Maryland last year.

In a conference call Friday, Jealous said Sanders "has the courage to confront...institutional racism and bias."

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The endorsement comes as Hillary Clinton has enjoyed a significant advantage in support from African American voters, according to polls -- an edge that could prove particularly valuable after the New Hampshire primary.

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