Hillary Clinton is Making a Bold Statement Today with Her Campaign Stop

June 23rd 2015

Sarah Gray

On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton is making a campaign stop near Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson was rocketed into the national spotlight in August 2014 when white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager. The subsequent -- and mostly peaceful -- protests gained attention due to images of a militarized police force and the burning and looting of businesses. Ferguson became a symbol of tensions between the police and the community.

Clinton, who is running for president, is stopping in the neighboring town of Florissant today to meet with community and church leaders at Christ the King Church (led by Black clergy members). According to a schedule obtained by the Guardian, she is expected to talk about youth employment, and CNN is reporting that Clinton will also discuss the recent calls for the removal of the Confederate flag. She'll "urge that in addition to the renewed conversation about the Confederate flag we can have, we must confront deeper, substantive issues around the racial divide that persists in America," an aide told CNN.

“We want to discuss issues with Secretary Clinton that are primary to our community,” Pastor Karen Anderson, of Florissant’s Ward Chapel AME church, told the Guardian. “We want to talk about economic disparity, the school-to-prison pipeline, issues with court reform and law enforcement reform.”

Her visit to the Ferguson area to speak with leaders like Anderson comes on the heels of the tragedy at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, South Carolina, where a 21-year-old white, male gunman killed nine Black worshipers at a prayer meeting. On Saturday, following the mass shooting, Clinton spoke frankly about race at the annual Conference of Mayors in San Francisco.

"Despite our best efforts and our highest hopes, America’s long struggle with race is far from finished," Clinton said in remarks on Saturday. "I know this is a difficult topic to talk about. I know that so many of us hoped by electing our first Black president, we had turned the page on this chapter in our history. I know there are truths we do not like to say out loud or discus with our children. But we have to."

This is not the first time that Clinton has touched on the topics of race, violence, police brutality, and a need to reform the criminal justice system. In April of 2015, Clinton gave a rousing speech at Columbia University, following the unrest in Baltimore after yet another Black man, Freddie Gray, died while in police custody.

"From Ferguson, to Staten Island, to Baltimore the patterns have become unmistakable and undeniable," Clinton stated.

"Not only as a mother and a grandmother, but as a citizen -- a human being -- my heart breaks for these young men and their families," Clinton continued. "We have to come to terms with some hard truths about race and justice in America. There is something profoundly wrong when African American men are still far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced for longer prison terms than are [handed] out to their white counterparts."

Activists hope Clinton will do more to specifically reach out to the African American community. DeRay McKesson, a well-known civil rights activist who was invited to Clinton's official campaign kickoff on June 13, tweeted that Clinton would need more than just "coded language."

Clinton's recent comments, however, were less guarded and much more frank.

“It’s tempting to dismiss a tragedy like this as an isolated incident, to believe that in today’s America bigotry is largely behind us,” Clinton said at the Conference of Mayors. “But despite our best efforts and our highest hopes, America’s long struggle with race is far from finished.”