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Spike Lee’s new 5-minute ad makes the case for Bernie Sanders

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

As New York prepares to vote on Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders has an ally trying to move the needle: renowned filmmaker Spike Lee, who, like Sanders, grew up in Brooklyn.

Lee has made a five-minute ad for Sanders, an unusual move for a major filmmaker:

Despite Lee's involvement, the result looks pretty conventional. It's recognizably a political ad, following the usual trope of interspersing Sanders's speeches with testimonials from his supporters.

Lee highlights supporters who are people of color — important going into the New York primary because Sanders has struggled with nonwhite voters in other states. He frames Sanders's campaign as the extension of historic and current civil rights fights, featuring testimonials from Harry Belafonte, the singer and 1960s civil rights activist; Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King; Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner, who was killed by New York police; Erika Andiola, an immigration activist; philosophy professor Cornel West; and Linda Sarsour, an advocate for Muslims in America.

It ends with kids reading the preamble to the Constitution and a few stirring words from Sanders.

New York turns up for a lot. Just not to the ballot box.

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