Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) smiles as he speaks to supporters during a caucus night party Feb. 1, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa.
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Former NAACP chairman to endorse Bernie Sanders

Former NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous speaks in a panel discussion during a conference, Oct. 24, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
Former NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous speaks in a panel discussion during a conference, Oct. 24, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Former NAACP Chairman Ben Jealous will endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday, his campaign confirmed to MSNBC, giving the Democratic presidential candidate a much-needed boost in his effort to win over African-American voters ahead of this month’s South Carolina primary.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is counting on her so-called Southern Firewall – an enormous lead among black voters in Southern primary states – to stop Sanders if he wins the New Hampshire primary next week, while Sanders is trying to chip away at it.

Sanders, who represents Vermont, one of the whitest states in the country, remains a largely unknown quantity to African-Americans and Latinos, each large blocs of the Democratic Party electorate. In South Carolina in particular, a state where African-Americans are expected to make up 60 percent of Democratic voters, Sanders trails Clinton by as much as 40 percentage points according to recent polls.

The Sanders campaign has been working assiduously to close that gap, and supporters like Jealous can offer major validation for the candidate with communities of color. He was also recently endorsed by an up-and-coming lawmaker in South Carolina who represents the family of Walter Scott, the man killed by police in North Charleston. 

The presidential campaign: Bernie Sanders
The self-described democratic socialist is known for pushing change on income inequality, college affordability and criminal justice reform.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

Former NAACP chairman to endorse Bernie Sanders