Hillary Clinton on Racism in America

Hillary Clinton putting race relations at the forefront of her campaign, speaking at a church only a short drive way from Ferguson, Missouri, site of last summer's racial tensions.
25:06 | 06/23/15

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Transcript for Hillary Clinton on Racism in America
Hillary Clinton in again putting race relations at the forefront speaking right now live at a church. In Missouri just a short drive away from her publicly and B visas. Your church. This community. And with such powerful words. I am here don't listen but also to engage. In the kind of open and honest discussion. That I hope is happening all across America. Last week. Just a few hours before the mass occur at mother Emanuel. AME church. During Wednesday night Bible study. I was in Charleston. Visiting a technical school. Meetings students black white Hispanic. Who were pursuing paid interns ships. And learning skills. That will prepare them for the jobs of the future. I heard their stories. I shook their hands. I looked into their eyes. And I saw the hole and the pride. That comes from doing work that is meaningful. Learned. Feeling that you matter. And that there will be a place for you that's the basic bargain of our country. And these young men and a few young women. Were doing their part. That night word of the killings. Struck like a low. To the sole. How do we make sense of such an evil act. An act racist terrorism. Perpetrated. In a house of god. How do we turn grief. Anger and despair. Into purpose. And action. Those of us who are Christians are challenged by Jesus Christ to forgive seventy times seven. Eight daunting. Even impossible. Task for most of us. But then we have seen. That's scriptural. Admonition. In action. Isn't it amazing. Remarkable even. When fear. Doubts. Desire for revenge. Might have been expected. But instead. Forgiveness. Is found. Although a fundamental. Part of art doctrine. It's practice is the most difficult thing we are ever called to do. But that's what we saw on Friday. When one by one grieving parents. Siblings and other family members. Look at that young man who had taken so much from them. And said. I forgive you. One descendants the granddaughter of reverend Daniel Simmons said. Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate. This is proof. Every once plea for your soul. She said to the killer. Is proof that they lived in love. So hate won't win. There act of mercy. Was as stunning. As his act of cruelty. Hate cannot win. There is no future without forgiveness. Archbishop. Desmond Tutu taught us. And forgiveness is the first step toward victory in any journey. I know it's tempting to dismiss. A tragedy like this as an isolated incidents. To believe that in today's America bigotry is largely behind us that institutionalized. Racism. No longer exists. But. Despite our best efforts and our highest hopes. America's long struggle with race is far from finished. We can't hide from hard truths about race and justice. We have to name them. And own them. And change them. That's why I appreciate the actions begun yesterday by the governor and other leaders of South Carolina. To remove the confederate battle flag from the state house. Recognizing. It as a symbol. Of our nation's racist past. That has no place in our presence. Or our future. It shouldn't fly bear it shouldn't fly any where. And I also commend Wal-Mart for deciding to remove and unique product that uses. Today Amazon. EBay and seers. C series have followed suit. And I urge all sellers to do. The very saying. But you know and I know that's just the beginning. Of what we have to do. The troupe kids. The quality. Opportunity. Civil rights in America. Are still far from where they need to be. Our schools are still segregated in fact more segregated than they were in the 1960s. Nearly six million young Americans between the ages of sixteen and 24. Are out of school. And out of work. Think of that neither are learning nor working. And the numbers are particularly high for young people of collar. Statistics like these are rebukes to the real progress we have made. And they pose an urgent call for us to act. Publicly. Politically. And personally. We should start by giving all our children the tools and opportunities to overcome legacies of discrimination. To live up to their own god given potentials. I just saw some of the young people attending camp here at the church down in the basement. And I was thrilled to see that because that is the kind of commitment we need more up. In every church in every place until every child is reached and I hope we can take. And they. I learned this not from politics but from my mother who taught me that everybody everybody needs a chance and a champion. She knew what it was like. To have neither one. Her own parents abandon her by fourteen she was out and around working as a house me. Years later when I was old enough to understand I asked her what kept you going. Her answer was very simple. Kindness along the way. From someone who. Oh read. She it mattered. All lives. Matter. And for her. It was the first great teacher who Sox yet nothing to eat at lunch and without embarrassing her brought extra food to share. It was a woman whose house she clean did. Who agreed to let herded go to high school so long as her work got done. Because those people believed an error gave her a chance. She believed in me. And she taught me to believe in the potential of every American. That inspired me to go to work for the children's defense fund after law school it inspired it work for the Legal Services Corp. Where I defended the rights of poor people to have lawyers. I saw lives changed. Because an abusive marriage ended or an illegal eviction stopped. In Arkansas to law school there I supervised law students who represented clients in courts and prisons. Organize college scholarship funds for single parents. Led efforts for better schools and better health care. So I know I know what personal kindness. Political commitments and public programs can do. To help those who are trying their best to get ahead. That's why we need to build an economy for tomorrow not yesterday. You don't have to look far from this sanctuary to see why that need is so urgent. But you also don't have to look far to see that talent and potential is all right here if only we unleash it. I believe the talent is universal but opportunity is not. We need to rebuild the American opportunity society for the 21 century. And you might ask how did we do that we'll first start looking at the faces and the energy of the young people I just saw downstairs. We have to start early make sure every four year old in America has access to high quality preschool. Because those early years are when young brains develop. And the right foundation can lead to lifelong success. I'm not saying this just because I'm now a grandmother. Of the most amazing brilliant extraordinary. Five month old in the history. Of the world. I'm saying this because again I know what the evidences. I know that 80% of your brain is developed by the age of three. So we have to do Mormon I say we I mean churches and houses of warship I mean businesses I mean charities. I mean local governments. All of us have to do more to help families be their child's first teachers from zero to five. You know when I was first lady of Arkansas I struggle with this issue. We have a lot of kids poor kids in the delta and south Arkansas. Up in the mountains. And we were not going to be able to afford at that point all those years ago a universal pre K program he had to do more but we were never gonna do enough. Site looked for programs. That people could run themselves. And I found a program in Israel. A program designed to help the children of immigrants in Israel particularly from Ethiopia. Who came. With their parents ski religious freedom they were Ethiopian Jews they had to escape. But many of them had never been to school. And the secret to the program called home instruction program for preschool youngsters. Was to teach the mother. To teach her child. We need to do more of that and I caught all of us to find ways. To reach and at those families and then as our kids grow up they're going to need not only a good education to prepare them. But the skills for tomorrow's jobs we need tax credits for businesses that invest in apprenticeships. Particularly providing opportunities to economically. Disadvantaged young. In order create those new jobs we have to attract investment and to communities too often ignored. Or written off. Where do you live and Ferguson. Or west Baltimore. In coal country or Indian Country you should have the same chance as any American any where tech get ahead and stay ahead. We should reauthorize the new markets tax credit which has encouraged billions of dollars in private funding for community development. And small businesses in low in humble investment areas it should be permanent. A lot of new jobs are going to come from small businesses and we know that women. And people up Collard face extra hurdles becoming entrepreneurs. It's harder to find the support networks it's hard to get that loan. So we've got to do more to have knocked down the barriers so every good idea that anybody has we'll get a fair hearing. And a chance to create a new business to imply. And raids there. We must all we can't be sure. Our community's respect law enforcement and that law enforcement respects the community's base. And we need to come together for common sense gun reforms that keep our. A all of this is revitalizing our democracy and finally persuading the fifty million Americans who do not vote. That by not voting they make it possible for people who do not agree with them do not support their aspirations to call the shots. Earlier this hot. I went to Texas Southern University to speak out against systematic efforts to dis empower and disenfranchise. Young people poor people people of collar and the elderly. We need early voting in every state and automatic universal voter that's afraid. I think every young American wind they turn eighteen should be universally. Automatically. Registered unless they say. Oh. We'll. Now. If we re stitch. The fraying fabric of our communities. We will only do so at all Americans. Do. Their part. I grew up in the Methodist Church my mother taught Sunday school. And nature are partnering to Dotson is closed keep an eye on my Brothers. Who are supposed to be in Sunday school but you never knew. She was there to make sure that they showed up in their classes. But she also made sure we heard the wisdom of John Wesley the founder Methodists and to do all the goods you can buy all the means Japan and all the way she can. In all the places you can at all times you can to all the people you can. As long as ever you came. And that meant more than prayer. It meant we had that step out of the church. Roll up our sleeves and get to work. I was blessed with a wonderful youth minister. Who took some of us. It dish Chicago. Your Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. I grew up in it all white middle class cover I didn't have a black friend neighbor or classmate until I went to college. And I am so blessed to have had so many in my life since. But I left at the chance to hear doctor king's words. The sermon that evening was titled remaining awake through a revolution. Doctor King challenged us to stay engaged in the clause. Of justice. Not to slumber. Of the world changed around us. I think it's good advice. For all of us today. We should all commit to stay away and stay active to do our part and our families our businesses unions houses of worship schools and yes in the voting Booth. Never stop working for a stronger more prosperous more just more inclusive America. Government has a take part of the responsibility to promote growth. Fairness and justice. But so to all of us. So in quiet moments in the days ahead. An honest conversations. Let's talk about what each of us can and should do. Because ultimately this is really all about the habits our hearts. How we treat each other. How we learned to see the humanity. In those around us. And how we teach our children to see that humanity to. We don't have to look far for examples. Of those nine righteous men and women. Who invited a stranger into their midst. Studied the Bible with them. Someone who did not look like them. And when that it never seen before. Their example and their memory. Show us the way. Their families. Their church does as well. So let us be resolved. To make sure. They did not die in vain. Do not be overcome by evil. But overcome evil with good thank you can got. Hillary Clinton speaking at a church for years Ferguson seriously about race relations. Speaking specifically. About the issue of the few. Confederate flag hanging at the state house in South Carolina saying that that flag should be taken down in assuming all of our nation's. Racist past want to bring in at least on our team politics writer at Mike news. He Shonn. Clinton has been at the forefront. Presidential candidates discussing race she talked about it back in April during that they're pretty gray protest now of course she's doing it again. Why is she taking this issue head on. We you know racial harmony and racial reconciliation has become a major theme in Hillary Clinton's campaign very early on. When her first major policy speech as was about criminal justice reform and the fact that. The way that our system of incarceration Woertz has very different effects on what America vs Black America. And that was a pretty bold stance we know calling for the end of mass incarceration. And I think the reason she's heading that ways because the fact that that's the way the country is heading. You know violence against the black community whether he threw. Overzealous policing or it be through in a white supremacist attacks. Has become a major major issue now it's been going on month after month it's hard to go weak without hearing about some sort of incidence of brutality. And become very salient. Four progressive Americans but also just a general electorate. And I think that we're going to see that she really want to take the lead on this those to make sure that her base is energized. You know in 2008 she was a lot more concerned about trying to make sure she didn't alienate centrist or conservative voters. But this time she's playing something a little bit more like Barack Obama and 2008 she's more interested in really galvanizing her base. Getting them excited and making sure that people who are in her party. And who already read it there really feel like that she can be a champion for them politically speaking if she can emerge as a leader when it comes to race relations have that help her. Well I think that's. Generally speaking. She's gonna have a lot to benefit from. Basically really mobilizing the black constituents of the Democratic Party there absolutely essential. In order to for the Democrats be able to win. And generally speaking the African American community. Excuse for the left intends to vote democratic but they should never be taken for granted. In 2008 Hillary Clinton did that and she really lost almost all of them very badly to Barack Obama. On at this point time I think she's gonna take varies for different direction. And really emphasize the fact that a lot of her platform is attending to sort of grievances of the black community faces. In a different way than a lot of the rest of the country does. Big issue right now the confederate flag hanging at state house. In South Carolina. Hillary Clinton says she has always been against the confederate flag she's always thought it should come down so no big surprise that she's sort of stepping up and calling for that now are you surprised that some GOP candidates are you know jumping on this sort ban mining saying yes this confederate flag should be taken down. Well you know after the attack a lot of Republican candidates were reluctant to describe the intentions of the shooter to racism. Ben Carson was a first GOP candidate to do so but a lot of others were very reluctant. At this point I'm other major contenders like Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush finally had changed their tune. And I think they did and all because. Of the fact that their opinions achieved but because popular pressure has really really really mounted. A you know you have leaders and major corporations saying that they're going to boycott sewing. Any kind of confederate flags. Media attention is just not. Is is just relentless on this issue and it's really really hard to see how the Republicans can get away without really coming out one thing like yes. This was a racist issue and in fact the confederate flag is something that really symbolizes. The kind of history. That this shooter was drawing from. We're seeing increased pressure. You know the governor of South Carolina calling for the flag BG now when in the past she. Sort of had the opposite view we saw a rally outside the Statehouse today. The state legislature has to vote I think it's a two thirds vote. What what Heidi see this playing out how long can the legislature go without taking up this issue. Now it's a complicated issue. Earlier on in the year if you polled south Carolinians. Actually 50% of them supported the confederate flag being up on State Capitol grounds. And a minority of them opposed it. Now in light of the church massacre last week those numbers very well may change. The state legislatures and state legislators and how to take that into account. But even if opinion within the state doesn't change the national media scrutiny is really going to affect them and people worry about things like how it could affect. Tourism where the economy people's reviewing the state as a bastion of racism and so that is going to be a really serious. Source of pressure as well. Interestingly he mentioned report that you did. You know how does. The divide work people who support the confederate flag vs those who are against it this is that divide amongst racial lines in South Carolina cracked. Yes exactly so if you look at the overall numbers it looks like south Carolinians are relatively evenly split. 50% support the flag 40%. Where it back in February. But if you break them those numbers by race you find that it's a majority of white south Carolinians to support the flag being up on State Capitol grounds. An African American voters you know heavily heavily oppose it so it's very polarizing but more along racial lines and anything else. It's very interesting as he shun Eileen thank you so much for my canoes we appreciate you being here as always thanks thanks. Are you can keep up on this Rick story in real time by downloading the ABC news app and storing the story for exclusive updates on the go. I'm Caroline Costello. In New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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