Hillary Clinton Responds to Black Lives Matter Activists In New Hampshire

August 18th 2015

Kyle Jaeger

Following a town hall last week in Keene, New Hampshire, Democratic presidential primary candidate Hillary Clinton spoke with Black Lives Matter activists in a closed-door exchange that was captured in part on video and released by Black Lives Matter Boston on Monday.

Though they were allowed to enter the town hall on August 11, the activist group accepted an offer to meet the candidate after the event instead, seizing the opportunity to voice their concerns directly to the Democratic front-runner.

At the beginning of the recording, one Black Lives Matter advocate presses Clinton to account for her record as a lawmaker, specifically concerning her support for controversial, tough-on-crime measures such as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.

"Now that you understand the consequences, what in your heart has changed that’s going to change the direction of this country?" the activist asks.

Clinton began by citing the work she's done to level the playing field for youth in America through the non-profit organization, the Children's Defense Fund, but conceded that such programs were not enough.

"I think that there has to be a reckoning," she said. "I agree with that. But I also think that there has to be some positive vision and plan that you have to move people toward."

"Once you say, you know, this country has still not recovered from its original sin, which is true—once you say that, then the next question, by people who are on the sidelines, which is the vast majority of Americans, the next question is: Well, so what do you want me to do about it? What am I supposed to do about it?"

The candidate recognized that mass incarceration and racial discrimination continually impact Black communities, and she commended the Black Lives Matter movement for the work that they have done to raise public attention to issues of racial injustice throughout the country. But she also emphasized that actionable change required actionable plans.

"That’s what I’m trying to put together in a way that I can explain it and I can sell it," Clinton said. "Because in politics, if you can’t explain it and you can’t sell it, it stays in the shelf."

Clinton goes on to say that every major movement that has affected change has reached "a point in time" when the "consciousness raising and advocacy" lends to policy proposals, suggesting that the lack of a "positive vision" has prevented the Black Lives Matter movement from advancing their objectives.

"Your analysis is totally fair," she tells the activist. "It’s historically fair, it’s psychologically fair, it’s economically fair. But you’re going to have to come together as a movement and say, 'Here’s what we want done about it.'"

"So the consciousness raising, the advocacy, the passion, the youth of your movement is so critical, but now all I’m suggesting is, even for us sinners, find some common ground on agendas that can make a difference right here and now in peoples lives, and that’s what I would love to have your thoughts about because that’s what I’m trying to figure out."

Related: Here are Hillary Clinton's Stances on 5 Major Issues You Care About

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