Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appealed to a largely African-American crowd in Detroit on Sunday, saying that she was the best candidate to address the problems of systemic racism in America.
“We have to face up to a painful reality. More than a half a century after Rosa Parks sat … race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind,” she told the crowd of nearly 10,000 people at the 60th annual NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund dinner at Cobo. “I want you to know that I get it and I see it. And it’s important that we have this conversation. For many white Americans, it’s tempting to believe that systemic racism is largely behind us. But anyone asking for your vote has a responsibility to see things as they actually are, not as we wish them to be.”
Her speech came as she inches closer to the Democratic nomination for president and just two days before the Indiana primary election. She started her day at a fund-raiser at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, where the price for a ticket ranged from $500 to $2,700.
The NAACP dinner this year took on an especially urgent tone as local leaders and Clinton talked about the public health crisis facing the city of Flint and the struggles of the schools in Detroit, two cities where minorities hold majorities in the population.
“We can’t be satisfied until every parent has a good-paying job and every grandparent has a secure retirement. Until all of Detroit’s children are learning in good schools with good teachers with no crumbling ceilings or rats scurrying across the floor,” said Clinton, a former first lady and secretary of state, “Where every child has safe water to drink and bathe in. We know what happened in Flint was unacceptable.”
The Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the NAACP’s Detroit chapter, told reporters before the dinner that, “We must remind America of her duty and promise to all people.”
— Niraj Warikoo (@nwarikoo) May 2, 2016
“In Flint, children are being poisoned by lead. … And we have a public school system that deserves our care and immediate concern.”
U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Detroit, added, “Our emphasis here today on young people is critical. They are who are coming after us. And the plight of our public schools. …We know our schools need a lot of help.”
Clinton holds a 1,645-1,318 lead over Sanders in pledged delegates and a 520-39 delegate lead among the superdelegates who can vote any way they choose at the Democratic convention, which will be held in Philadelphia in late July. The winning Democratic nominee needs to accumulate 2,383 delegates to win the nomination.
Part of Clinton’s strength this primary election season has been her lead among African Americans, who widely supported her husband, former President Bill Clinton. In Michigan’s March 8 primary election, Clinton won the African-American vote by a 65%-31% margin, according to exit polls. But Clinton narrowly lost Michigan’s primary election, falling to Sanders by a 49.8% to 48.3% margin.
She focused on not only racism in her speech, but the promise of a comeback in Detroit and drew a contrast with New York businessman Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner for the GOP nomination for president.
“Look at all of the great things happening in the city. There is a palpable feeling of pride and progress. And the auto industry just had its best year ever,” she said, noting that much of that progress has happened under the leadership of President Barack Obama. “We cannot let Barack Obama’s legacy fall into Donald Trump’s hands. If I’m fortunate enough to be president, I’m going to fight to tear down those barriers. … My administration will look like America.”
It was Clinton’s second time as the event’s keynote speaker. She also spoke while serving as a U.S. senator in 2004. Before Michigan’s primary, Clinton held meetings, toured businesses and held several rallies across the state. Both her husband, and daughter, Chelsea Clinton, also campaigned on her behalf.
In Washington, D.C., Sanders told reporters Sunday that his road to the nomination is challenging, but not impossible because he doesn’t believe Clinton will have enough pledged delegates by the last primary election on June 14. As a result, superdelegates, especially in states that he has won, should reconsider their support for Clinton and vote for him at the convention.
“While we have won 45% of the pledged delegates in real campaigns where the people have spoken, we’ve won only 7.5% of the superdelegates,” he said in the news conference that was televised by C-Span. “They should seriously reflect on whether they should align their votes with the people of their state.”
(c)2016 the Detroit Free Press
Visit the Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.