By Erick Johnson and Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
Presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, visited Chicago’s Black community on Monday, June 27, where she offered hope to residents whose
neighborhoods have been hit with record levels of shootings and deaths this year.
Clinton spoke at the International Women’s Luncheon at the Hyatt McCormick Hotel as part of the 50th Annual Rainbow PUSH Coalition Convention, where renowned actress Cicely Tyson was among a group of women who were honored for their contributions in various professions.
They joined over 1,000 who cheered as Clinton gave a 45- minute keynote address before numerous community leaders and dignitaries.
In her second speech on the South Side in five months, Clinton ignited the large crowd as she vowed to join lawmakers in pushing for tighter gun legislation to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. With heavy opposition from Republican lawmakers in Congress and shooting deaths climbing to record levels in Chicago, Clinton urged the crowds to not grow weary.
“They have been listening. It takes humility and a lot of patience to get things done in the
halls of power, but I am convinced that the tide is turning. I can feel it,” she said.
Fresh from a surprise visit to the Pride Parade in New York the day before, Clinton came to Chicago seeking to address the city’s spiraling gun violence with more empathy and emotion. As many young Blacks are killed on the streets, Clinton said legislators should view gun violence as a mental health problem that needs to be addressed with compassion.
“We’ve lost our ability to show empathy and compassion. That is the root of solving problems,” Clinton said.
Clinton often praised Reverend Jesse L. Jackson Sr. for his efforts in curbing gun violence. She also praised Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and his colleagues for staging a 24-hour sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives after the Senate voted against gun control bills and after a 15-hour filibuster in light of the mass shooting in Orlando, FL, which has been dubbed the worst in the nation’s history.
As the massacre of 49 people inside of an Orlando nightclub remains in the national spotlight,
Clinton echoed concerns of many Blacks in Chicago who believe the shootings that have rocked their city for years have been largely forgotten.
During Clinton’s speech, many applauded as she reminded the crowd that reducing gun violence in Chicago should remain a high priority among local and national leaders.
Last month in Chicago, 66 people were shot, bringing the total to a record 300 so far this year. Jackson said he trusts Clinton to bring a White House summit to Chicago to increase resources for urban reconstruction, investment and more jobs for Blacks.
“We must take the initiative to end these killing fields and the poverty that does so much to create them,” said Jackson. “Trust matters. Justice matters. Hillary, you’ve been through the fire.”
Clinton mentioned her recent trip with Jackson to Diane Latiker’s, “Kids off the Block” (KOB) on the far South Side, where there are over 500 bricks bearing the names of children who have been killed by gun violence. During her speech, Clinton said their lives “were taken too soon.”
She also acknowledged Annette Nance-Holt, the mother of 16- year-old, Blair, who was killed in 2007 while aboard a CTA bus.
Interviewed after the luncheon, Nance-Holt thought “it was wonderful” that Clinton mentioned her son’s death and her work as a member of the Purpose over Pain group, an organization that was honored last month during the Chicago Crusader’s “Heroes in
the Hood” awards.
“No candidate reached out to us or were concerned about what is going on in the city and across urban America where we are losing so many young people daily,” stated Nance-Holt.
Clinton swept the primaries largely with the help of Black voters across the country. The race to the White House remains tight as Clinton and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump remains deadlocked in the latest opinion polls. At one point during her speech, Clinton took a swipe at her opponent.
“Donald Trump isn’t for the working, middle class. He’s in this race for himself. He’s unfit to preside over America,” Clinton said.
Clinton is relying heavily on the Black vote to become the first female president in American history. During her keynote speech Tuesday, Clinton drew cheers from the predominantly Black crowd as she spoke on gun violence.
“I think saving our children and other people from gun violence is a civil rights issue,” Clinton said as the crowd applauded.
She reaffirmed her support for President Barack Obama saying the nation’s first Black president has not been given enough credit in turning the nation’s economy around from the devastating recession where many lost their homes, jobs and life savings.
“Multi-generational poverty has no place in the United States of America,” said Clinton.
Touching upon issues that especially affect the Black and brown communities, she added, “We
need to listen to the families crying out for criminal justice reform to make their communities safer and give people who made mistakes a real chance at a job with a future.”
After paying her respects to mothers who have lost their sons to gun violence, Tyson said the first award she ever received for acting was from Rainbow PUSH some 50-years ago.
“I can’t tell you how extremely grateful I am for that,” she said.
Tyson recalled a visit to Chicago where she stayed with Jackson while shooting a film in the city.
She said the Jackson family would forever be a part of her.
Tyson praised Jesse Jackson’s wife, Jacqueline. She stressed the important role mothers have in raising their children.
“We are their first teachers. We can’t forget that,” she said. “We have to stand them on a foundation that is absolutely unshakable.”
While many fans believe she is a strong woman, Tyson said her mother was stronger.
She talked about the time she met an old lady when she thought she knew everything. Tyson urged everyone to stand tall and not to fall by the wayside.