NEWS BRIEF The 2016 Democratic National Convention schedule is just beginning to take shape.
In a press release Friday, the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Convention Committee announced which bold-faced names would speak when during the four-night event. The festivities begin July 25 in Philadelphia, and as is traditional, the candidate herself isn’t speaking until the last night.
But other political heavyweights will help sustain delegates’ attention until then. The first night’s theme is a bit on-the-nose: They’re calling it “United Together,” and it’ll feature appearances from First Lady Michelle Obama, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and immigration activist Astrid Silva, whose story President Obama once highlighted in an address on immigration. The Clinton team is counting on Sanders, who only recently endorsed her, to rally his legions of supporters to her campaign, and clearly they hope he’ll be able to do that effectively at the top of the convention’s proceedings.
Former President Bill Clinton will kick off the second night, but it’s who’ll also be there that’s more notable: the Mothers of the Movement, most of whom have children who’ve died from gun violence, at the hands of police, or both. The women have served as powerful surrogates for Clinton in recent months, telling their stories in primary states and campaign stops all across the country. The New York Times described in April how their testimony has helped Clinton:
Having these women by her side has provided Mrs. Clinton with powerful and deeply sympathetic character witnesses as she makes her case to African-American voters. And they have given her campaign, an often cautious and poll-tested operation, a raw, human and sometimes gut-wrenching feeling.
The presence of the mothers has also proved a shrewd political move, influencing black leaders and lawmakers to back Mrs. Clinton.
Bill Clinton has had unfavorable encounters with protesters, including those from Black Lives Matter, who criticize his administration’s record on incarceration. Hillary Clinton has tried to separate herself from his 1994 crime bill, which she supported. It’s not clear whether Bill Clinton is speaking alongside the Mothers or if their speeches will be separate. But either way, it could be an attempt to smooth over tensions with a community wary of the former president.