Here's What Hillary Clinton Had to Say about Black Lives Matter

July 20th 2015

Kyle Jaeger

Almost one year since her last social media Q&A, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton replied to a handful of questions in an hour-long Facebook session on Monday, and one reporter's question on race relations in the United States got everyone's attention.

Hillary’s hosting her first Facebook Q&A of the campaign this afternoon. She'll be chatting live about her vision for a...

Posted by Hillary Clinton onMonday, July 20, 2015

Wesley Lowery, who covers law enforcement and justice for the Washington Post, pressed Clinton to comment on her plans to advance the interests of Black voters

Lowery wrote, "[y]ou chose not to speak at Netroots Nation this weekend, two of your Democratic primary rivals did—both were interrupted by Black Lives Matters protestors, who asked: 'As the leader of this nation, will you advance a racial justice agenda that will dismantle—not reform, not make progress—but will begin to dismantle—but will begin to dismantle structural racism in the United States. How would you have answered?'"

In her reply, Clinton declined to respond to the reporter's comment about her absence from the Netroots Nation event, but did offer a thoughtful answer on the subject of racial inequality in America. And this time around, Clinton was sure to avoid the misstep that got her in trouble with critics last month when she mentioned that "all lives matter" at a historic black church in Missouri. The "all lives matter" mantra, which has become something of a litmus test in the Democratic presidential primary, is a sticking point for Black Lives Matter activists, who feel that those saying "all lives matter" minimize -- whether knowingly or unknowingly -- the unique problems facing the Black community.

"Black lives matter," Clinton starts. "Everyone in this country should stand firmly behind that."

"Since this campaign started, I've been talking about the work we must do to address the systemic inequalities that persist in education, in economic opportunity, in our justice system. But we have to do more than talk—we have to take action," she said.

Some specific policies mentioned by Clinton include mandating that police wear body cameras, universal pre-school, and universal voter registration.

The "All Lives Matter" Issue

The "all lives matter" issue came up this past weekend at the Netroots Nation conference that Lowery referenced in his question. On Saturday, Black Lives Matter activists interrupted two separate candidate forums with two other Democratic presidential candidates, Martin O'Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Activists say that O'Malley made the same misstep as Clinton when he said that "all lives matter." (He later apologized.) While Sanders did not make that mistake, he was criticized for trying to talk over the protestors and for appearing visibly annoyed.

"Black lives, of course, matter. I spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and for dignity," Sanders said. "But if you don't want me to be here, that's OK. I don't want to out-scream people."

Other questions the former Secretary of State fielded included student debt, capital gains tax, voting rights, and the so-called "gig economy."