Ayana Jones, phillytrib.com
On a day when she was announced as the next chair of the Democratic National Committee, Donna Brazile chose to spend the morning in a caucus of Black Democrats in Center City.
Brazile, campaign manager for Al Gore’s 2000 run for president, has emerged again as a key figure after outgoing DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz decided to step down at the end of this week’s convention in the wake of a scandal over hacked emails that showed she presided over a campaign of bias against Sen. Bernie Sanders, who lost the nomination to Hillary Clinton.
Brazile, the interim DNC chairwoman, apologized during the caucus meeting for the controversial emails.
“I sincerely apologize, my friends, for those of you took offense and were offended and those of you who feel betrayed and were betrayed by the ridiculous and insensitive and inappropriate emails from the staff of the Democratic party,” Brazile said to rousing applause. “This is not that party that writes emails like that.”
The event drew high-profile politicians, attorneys, civil rights leaders and others.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow Push Coalition, said Clinton can be trusted to address issues of interest to African Americans including affordable health care, racial justice, gender equality, support for HBCUs, increasing wages for workers, reducing student loan debt and enforcing the Voting Rights Act.
“Hillary is the right person to win this election,” he said.
Virgie Rollins, chair of the Democratic National Committee Black Caucus highlighted the importance of mobilizing to get voters to the polls.
“We’ve got to get energized,” Rollins told attendees of the caucus meeting.
“We’ve got to get mobilized. This is the beginning. When we leave this convention we want to be so energized so that when we get back home, we want to make sure every door is knocked on and that every member of our family is registered and we are going to make sure that we get the vote out.”
The role that African Americans play in electing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as the next president was a common thread among speakers during the morning meeting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Center City.
New Jersey U.S. Sen. Cory Booker told the Black caucus the coalition necessary for Clinton to win depends heavily on the African-American community.
“I’m very excited about the people at the top of our ticket,” said Booker, who was reportedly considered by Clinton as a running mate. “But I want you to know that, ultimately, the test of our future is not going to be who is on the ballot, but it’s going to be about us.”
He said the public can bring change to Washington, D.C.
“We have the power to bring criminal justice reform,” Booker told the caucus. “We have the power to invest in our children. We have the power to create an expansion of economic opportunity so that we don’t count our nation great because we have lots of millionaires and billionaires, but because we have so few people living in poverty. We have the power to do these things, if we, in this community, call on the conscious of our country and get people to come out so we don’t just win the presidency and the vice presidency, so that we send more people to the Congress, to the House and to the Senate.”
Attorney Benjamin Crump, the immediate past-president of the National Bar Association, encouraged African Americans to vote so they could receive their due process of the law. Crump represents the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.
Martin was 17-year-old when he was fatally shot in 2012 by former neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, who was ultimately acquitted. Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson in 2014
“When they have all these qualified immunities to justify the killings of all these Black and brown boys, don’t tell me it’s right just because you intellectually justify [it],” Crump said. “We have a moral obligation to stand up for our children. We have to stand up and fight for our children because they are our children.”