Hillary Clinton -- A Lifetime of Walking the Walk
Hillary’s record on civil rights isn’t just about what she’s done throughout her 35 years of advocacy, it’s about what she’ll do as President. Throughout her life, she has worked to protect civil rights and expand opportunities for African-Americans.
During this campaign, Hillary has advanced specific plans for increasing opportunities and empowering communities. From cracking down on predatory lending to creating opportunities for young people to protecting the vote to restoring the Gulf Coast, Hillary is laying out a clear blueprint for how she’ll empower African-Americans as President.
Growing Up and As a Student
* As a teenager, Sen. Clinton was inspired by seeing Dr. King speak in Chicago. [Living History, pg. 23]
* In the wake of Dr. King's assassination, Hillary organized a strike at Wellesley aimed at increasing diversity in the staff and student body. [New York Times, 9/5/07]
* As a law student she volunteered at the New Haven Legal Services offices, providing free legal aid to low income people, in need of assistance. Hillary said, "I realized that what I wanted to do with the law was to give voice to children who were not being heard." [Living History, pg. 49-50]
* Hillary took a job with Marian Wright Edelman's Washington Research Project in Washington, DC (later the Children’s Defense Fund). WRP couldn't pay her; she was awarded a grant by the Law Student Civil Rights Research Council. Later when she back to work for the Children's Defense Fund after law school, she worked on juvenile justice issues in South Carolina. [Living History, pg. 47-49; pg. 64]
* In the summer of 1972, Hillary challenged discrimination practices. (She gathered information about "Nixon Administration's failure to enforce the legal ban on granting tax-exempt status to the private segregated academies that had sprung up in the South to avoid integrated public schools.") [Living History, pg. 57]
* Hillary headed the voter registration drive in Austin, Texas for McGovern campaign, focusing on registering black, Hispanic, and young, newly-enfranchised voters. [Living History, pg. 58-59]
* Upon moving to Arkansas, Hillary taught law and ran the University of Arkansas's legal aid clinic and prison projects providing legal assistance to the poor and incarcerated. [Living History, pg. 70]
* Hillary chaired the Educational Standards Commission to reform Arkansas’ education system to better prepare young people, particularly those living in low income areas, to thrive. [Associated Press, 1/27/93]
* She served as Chair of the Legal Services Corporation Board of Directors from 1978-80, a time of expansion for LSC. [Living History, pg.83]
As First Lady
* As First Lady, Hillary championed SCHIP which today provides health care to 6 million kids. [New York Times, 3/14/07]
* Hillary led new investments in child care, including Head Start. [PL 103-252, signed 5/18/94; The Washington Post, 10/7/98; USA Today, 10/27/98]
* Hillary fought to increase access to after school opportunities. [Chicago Sun-Times, 4/28/98]
* She worked on the Family and Medical Leave Act and later fought to expand it. [Christian Science Monitor, 6/24/99; The Post-Standard, 10/23/00]
* Hillary also worked on new initiatives to help families with long-term care needs. [Talking it Over, 1/6/99]
In the Senate
* As a Senator, Hillary co-sponsored the Count Every Vote Act with Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, a comprehensive reform bill that demands an electoral system that ensures that every voter is given the opportunity to vote and makes sure those votes are counted. [Clinton Senate Office press release, 3/7/07; S. 804]
* She's co-sponsored a number of measures to help the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, working to ensure that Katrina survivors get access to affordable health care, to protect the wages of workers in New Orleans, and to fill hundreds of teaching vacancies in New Orleans schools. [S. 2164, 12/21/05; S.1749, 9/21/05; S.808, 3/8/07]
* Save the Civil Rights Division from eight years of the Bush Administration. Hillary will: Direct the Attorney General to submit – within 90 days of taking office – a report that recommends how to rebuild DOJ’s traditional role in defending civil rights and the rule of law, and that reviews charges of improper, politically motivated hiring to determine whether laws were broken. Restore professionalism and remove politics from hiring, case deliberations, and policy decisions across the Department of Justice. Increase funding for the Civil Rights Division by $30 million.
* Help local school districts pursue voluntary integration and reduce racial inequality, in the face of a reactionary Supreme Court. Hillary will: Direct the Attorney General to appoint teams of EOE (Equal Opportunity in Education) consultants and deploy them to advise local school districts who want to design the most effective and proactive voluntary integration programs permitted under the Supreme Court’s recent ruling. Provide $10 million to help school districts implement these plans.
* Strengthen our voting laws so that every citizen can fully exercise his or her constitutional right to vote. Hillary will: Sign the Count Every Vote Act into law. Combat voter ID laws that have a disproportionate negative impact on minorities. Extend voting rights to citizens of D.C.
* Combat ongoing racial and sex discrimination in the labor market by improving laws and expanding enforcement. Hillary will: Fully fund and reverse the staffing cuts to the EEOC and strengthen the employment section of the Civil Rights Division. Sign into law the Paycheck Fairness Act to end gender discrimination in pay.
* Modernize and strengthen the federal hate crimes law. Hillary will: Sign into law the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
* Rebuild New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, Hillary has ten concrete ideas for ensuring that the federal government doesn’t repeat the mistakes it made while redoubling rebuilding efforts including elevating the Gulf Coast Federal Rebuilding Director, expanding housing, building 21st Century school and revitalizing a lagging health care system. [Gulf Coast Recovery Agenda]
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Marc Ambinder is a senior fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy.