Dan Merica and Eugene Scott, CNN, February 16, 2016
Hillary Clinton told an audience of top African-American thinkers and legislators on Tuesday in Harlem that ending racial inequities in the United States would be “the mission” of her presidency.
Race, Clinton said, “still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind.”
Clinton called for “end-to-end” criminal justice reform, more support for African-American homeowners and a $20 billion spending plan aimed “specifically at creating jobs for young people” in minority communities.
And in some of her strongest rhetoric of the speech, Clinton implied that Sanders was a late-comer to the African-American community, a knock that mimics what some close to the Clinton campaign have said about Sanders.
“If we continue to ask black people to vote for us, we cannot minimize the reality of the lives they lead,” Clinton said. “You can’t just show up at election time and say the right things. You can’t start building relationships a few weeks before a vote.”
Clinton said combating inequality has been her “north star” since her days as an aide at the Children’s Defense Fund and refuted that idea that she was talking about race in America two weeks before the South Carolina primary because of politics.
“We have to demonstrate a sustained commitment to building opportunity, creating prosperity and writing wrongs, not just every two or four years, not just when the cameras are on and people are watching but every single day,” Clinton said.
Earlier this month, Clinton visited Flint, Michigan, to address the city’s water crisis where men, women and children have been poisoned by untreated, lead-filled water.
“It is a horrifying story but what makes it even worse is that it is not a coincidence that this was allowed to happen in largely back, largely poor community,” Clinton said. “Just ask yourself, could this have ever occurred in a wealthy white suburb of Detroit? Absolutely not.”