Here' the Hill's analysis:
Cohen, who represents a majority African-American district that contains the city of Memphis, has faced criticism from black politicians in his district in the past.
In 2008, he ran in a racially-tinged primary against attorney Nikki Tinker, whose campaign was criticized for running harsh ads against Cohen suggesting he was tied to white supremacist groups.
Then-Sen. Barack Obama endorsed Cohen in the race, which he handily won. Cohen faces a primary challenge this cycle from ex-Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, who is also African-American.
Translation...he's trying to get some street cred...