July 31, 2015
Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL), Dr. Ben Carson, former Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD), and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) spoke at the National Urban League conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
"The opportunity gap that America is facing is not just about economic inequality. It's about racial inequality."—Hillary at
Hillary Clinton: “Race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind.”
Good morning. Good morning. Wow. This is a great way to start my day. And I’m delighted to be here with you. I want to thank Marc for not only the introduction, but all of his work over the years. I have been a fan of Marc’s since he was mayor of New Orleans. He did great work there — and he’s doing great work at the National Urban League. So thank you, Marc. And we’re all thinking, as I hope we do every year, about New Orleans as we near the 10th anniversary of Katrina. Something like that should never be allowed to happen in the United States of America again. So we have to keep learning the lessons and re-pledging our commitment.I want to thank everyone for welcoming me here today. I want to give a shout-out to your national chairman of the board Michael Neidorff; also, backstage I saw a longtime friend of mine, Congressman Alcee Hastings; and Alexis Herman, who served in my husband’s administration; and Tony West, who served in President Obama’s administration. There’s a veritable hall of fame here for this event. And I can never come to a National Urban League gathering without mentioning my lifelong friend Vernon Jordan. He may not be here today, but he’s with us in spirit because of his deep love and commitment to this organization.It’s also close to my heart. Over the years, I’ve gotten the chance to work with you, learn from you. I’ve pored over your State of Black America reports, I’ve spoken at your conferences, but most importantly, I’ve seen how you change people’s lives.The theme of this conference — “Saving Our Cities: Education, Jobs and Justice” — speaks to the important work that you’ve been doing for decades. I know that you help black entrepreneurs get start-up capital. I know you help people find jobs. I know you give families financial counseling so they can achieve their dreams of buying a home or sending their kids to college. And you make sure parents have the tools to take care of their kids’ health. That’s the kind of day-to-day commitment that makes such a difference. As you help prepare young people for college and work in a world that can sometimes make them feel that they’re not very important, you make sure they know just how precious and powerful they really are.This vital work has been my work too. My first job out of law school wasn’t at some big law firm; it was with the Children’s Defense Fund, started by Marian Wright Edelman. That first summer after I graduated, I went door to door for kids shut out of school and denied the education they deserve. I also began a lifelong concern by working with the CDF to try to figure out what we did with kids caught up in the juvenile and adult prison systems. As First Lady, I helped create the Children’s Health Insurance Program. You were an ally in doing that. As Senator, I championed small businesses owned by women and people of color, because that’s where a lot of the jobs in America come from. I fought to raise the minimum wage — because no one who works hard in America should have to raise their kids in poverty.These issues — your issues — are deeply personal to me. So I’m here early on this morning, first and foremost, to say thank you. But I’m also here to talk about the future — because the work you have been doing is more important than ever, and I’m going to keep doing that work right alongside you.Now, I would love nothing more than to stay and have a conversation for hours, going into depth about every single issue that we are worried about, but you have a full slate of speakers that will follow me. So let me make three points about the work we need to do together.First: The opportunity gap that America is facing is not just about economic inequality. It is about racial inequality. Now, that may seem obvious to you, but it bears underscoring because some of the evidence that backs it up would come as a shock to many Americans. Like how African Americans are nearly three times as likely as whites to be denied a mortgage. Or how, in 2013, the median wealth for white families was more than $134,000 — but for African American families, it was just $11,000.A lot of people don’t realize that our schools are more segregated today than they were in 1968. Or even that African Americans are sentenced to longer prison terms than white people for the same crimes. Or that political operatives are trying every trick in the book to prevent African Americans from voting.And listen to this one, because as somebody who started with the Children’s Defense Fund and who now is the proud and delighted grandmother of a 10-month-old granddaughter — African American children are 500 percent — 500 percent — more likely to die from asthma than white kids. Now, I studied and advocated and introduced legislation to close health disparities. I knew how severe they were, but 500 percent?So all of this points to an unavoidable conclusion: race. Race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind. And yes, while that’s partly a legacy of discrimination that stretches back to the start of our nation, it is also because of discrimination that is still ongoing.I’m not saying anything you don’t already know. You understand this better than I do — better than anyone. But I want to say it anyway. Because I’m planning to be President, and anyone who seeks that office has a responsibility to say it. And more than that, to grapple with the systemic inequities that so many Americans face. Anyone who asks for your vote should try their hardest to see things as they actually are, not just as we want them to be. So I want you to know I see it and I hear you. And the racial disparity you work hard every day to overcome go against everything I believe in, and everything I want to help America achieve.The second point is this: This is not just about statistics, as damning as they can be. This is about Americans doing some soul-searching and holding ourselves to account. This is about all of us looking into our hearts, examining our assumptions and fears, and asking ourselves: What more can I do in my life to counter hate and injustice? How can I make our country a better, fairer place?Let me be clear: I think all of us need to do that kind of introspection. But those of us who have not experienced systemic racial inequities — we have an extra obligation. We need to do a better job of listening when people talk about the seen and unseen barriers they face every day. We need to practice humility, rather than assume that our experiences are everyone’s experiences. And yes, we need to try, as best we can, to walk in one another’s shoes — to imagine what it would be like to sit our son down and have “the talk,” or if people followed us around stores, or locked their car doors when we walked past.That empathy — that’s what makes it possible for people from every background, every race, every religion, to come together as one nation. That’s the kind of generosity of spirit that makes a country like America endure. And given what we’ve seen and experienced over the last two years, this is an urgent call for people to search their own hearts and minds.Here’s my third point: We’ve arrived at a moment when all these challenges are in sharp relief, and we have to seize it. Too many times now, Americans have come together, in shock and horror, to process a violent, senseless tragedy. Like Trayvon Martin, shot to death not in some empty, desolate street somewhere, but in a gated community. He wasn’t a stranger, he had family there. Or Sandra Bland, a college-educated young woman who knew her rights, who didn’t do anything wrong, but still ended up dying in a jail cell. Together, we’ve mourned Tamir Rice and Eric Garner, Walter Scott and Freddie Gray, and most recently, Sam Dubose. These names are emblazoned on our hearts. We’ve seen their faces, we’ve heard their grieving families. We’ve seen a massacre in Charleston, and black churches set on fire — today, in 2015.
But thankfully, tragedy is not all we have seen. Yes, the Confederate battle flag came down finally in South Carolina. The families of the Charleston victims reached out with extraordinary grace to the man who killed their loved ones. And President Obama delivered a eulogy that sounded as though it had come straight from angels, ending with Amazing Grace. Young people have taken to the streets, dignified and determined, urging us to affirm the basic fact that black lives matter. And because of people across this country sharing their stories with courage and strength, a growing number of Americans are realizing what many of you have been saying for a long time — we can’t go on like this; we are better than this; things must change.Now, it’s up to us to build on that momentum, and we all have to do our part — but those of us who strive to lead have a special responsibility.I’m very pleased that many presidential candidates will be here today to address you. It is a signal that the work you’ve been doing — laboring in the vineyards for decades — is getting the political attention it deserves. But the real test of a candidate’s commitment is not whether we come to speak at your national conference, as important as that is. It’s whether we’re still around after the cameras are gone and the votes are counted. It’s whether our positions live up to our rhetoric.And too often we see a mismatch between what some candidates say in venues like this, and what they actually do when they’re elected. I don’t think you can credibly say that everyone has a “right to rise” and then say you’re for phasing out Medicare or for repealing Obamacare. People can’t rise if they can’t afford health care. They can’t rise if the minimum wage is too low to live on. They can’t rise if their governor makes it harder for them to get a college education. And you cannot seriously talk about the right to rise and support laws that deny the right to vote.So yes, what people say matters, but what they do matters more. Americans, especially today, deserve leaders who will face inequity, race and justice issues in all their complexity head on — who won’t just concede that there are barriers holding people back, who will do instead what it takes to tear those barriers down, once and for all.I will never stop working on issues of equality and opportunity, race and justice. That is a promise. I’ve done it my entire adult life. I will always be in your corner. Because issues like these — they are why I’m running for president. They are why I got involved in public service in the first place — to tear down the barriers that hold people back from developing their talents and achieving their dreams.I’m asking you to hold me accountable, to hold all of us accountable. Because the work that you’re doing must lead to action. And you deserve leaders who not only get that, but who will work hard every day to make our country a better place — to make it live up to its potential and to provide the opportunities for every single child in this country to live up to his or her God-given potential.Yes, I do have this 10-month-old grandchild now, and I’ve got to tell you — those of you who already have reached this incredible, transformational point in your lives understand this — there is nothing like it to focus you on the present. When Bill and I are with Charlotte, doing our best to babysit — the phones are off, the TV is off; we’re just focused on this miracle of life. And we’re the kind of grandparents, I’ll confess, that when she learns to clap her hands we give her a standing ovation. But you see, it’s not just about our granddaughter, is it? We, of course, will do everything we can to make sure she has all the opportunities she should — as a citizen of this country, as a child of God, as a person who has the right to go as far as her hard work and talent will take her. But that’s not enough. I don’t want that just for my granddaughter. I’m the granddaughter of a factory worker who worked from the time he was a teenager to the time he retired in the Scranton lace mills. I know how blessed I’ve been, and opportunities that I had that others with just as much talent did not.So let us tear down the barriers so no matter whose child you are or grandchild you are, you too will have the same chance. I’m proud to be your ally. I’m committed to being your partner. I will keep fighting right alongside you, today and always, to make the United States of America a country where all men and women, all boys and girls, are treated as they deserve to be — as equals. I know we can do this. I know the path ahead is not easy. But I’m absolutely convinced that we will once again join hands and make a difference for those young people who not only need a path, but need the love and embrace of a grateful nation for the contributions they each will make to a better future for us all.Thank you and God bless you.
Here is a response, an important one, that you can use to counter those who keep insisting that Hillary has a "trustworthiness" problem. From The Briefing. Here is a little peek.
Hillary Clinton traveled to Ft. Lauderdale and Miami where she spoke at the National Urban League and delivered remarks on the need to end the embargo on Cuba.
Here’s what people are saying:
2015 National Urban League Conference14. BuzzFeed: Hillary Wins The Only Standing Ovation From An Obama Crowd
Clinton was undoubtedly the candidate folks at the annual convention had wanted to see most. She got the loudest welcoming applause, the most people clamoring for a brief audience with her, and the most widespread approval by members of the Urban League, who gave her speech the morning's only standing ovation.
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