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Mitchell: Biggest signal was where, not what, Clinton said

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivers the keynote speech during the Rainbow PUSH Coalition's International Women's Luncheon June 27, 2016 in Chicago Illinois.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivers the keynote speech during the Rainbow PUSH Coalition's International Women's Luncheon June 27, 2016 in Chicago Illinois. | Getty Images

Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, didn’t drop any bombshells in her 30-minute speech at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition’s International Women’s Luncheon on Monday afternoon.

She did get her digs in, however, calling her opponent, Donald Trump, “a man with dangerous incoherent ideas.”

But for the most part, Clinton did what was expected.

She bemoaned the ongoing gun violence in the city, pointing out that 64 people were shot across this city on Memorial Day weekend, and 33,000 people have been killed by gun violence every year in America.

“I don’t know about you, but I think saving our children and other people from gun violence is a civil rights issue right now in America,” Clinton said.

The promises Clinton made before the Rainbow PUSH crowd cut right to the heart of the troubles plaguing predominantly black and brown communities.


“We are going to create more good jobs with rising incomes. We are going into neighborhoods and areas that have been left out of the prosperity that many have experienced. We are going to build on the progress made by President Obama,” Clinton said to applause.

Still it wasn’t what she said that signaled the biggest promise of change with the November elections.

It was where she was standing: in a ballroom at McCormick Place at the podium draped by no less than eight American flags, with Jacqueline Jackson sitting to her right.

It has been a tough eight years for the Jacksons. The politically powerful family fell out of favor at the White House after an open mic picked up Jackson’s crude remark about Obama early in Obama’s campaign.

Not long afterwards, the civil rights icon had to watch stoically as their son Jesse Jackson Jr. was sent to prison for raiding his campaign chest. His daughter-in-law, Sandi Jackson, a Chicago alderman at the time, was also caught up in the scandal and is currently serving a prison sentence.

Although the Rev. Jesse Jackson managed to keep his head up, being snubbed by the first black man in the White House was a burn.

Clinton’s acceptance of Rainbow PUSH Coalition’s invitation to deliver a keynote address at a convention function shows Jackson’s resiliency.

As a nonprofit organization, Rainbow PUSH isn’t permitted to endorse candidates. But that didn’t stop other speakers from getting political.

“We will never go back to the 1950s and the dark days of Jim Crow. On behalf of the National Organization of Women, thank you for being in the fight. We are in the fight with you, and we will prevail,” said Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women.

Despite Clinton’s hard-fought campaign against Obama in 2008 that at times had racial undertones and the criticism Bill Clinton has received for the incarceration rates during his presidency, Clinton is hoping her long relationship with civil rights leaders will carry her through the November general election.

“We trust Hillary Clinton when she fights for gender equality and racial justice,” Jackson said in his introduction of the presumptive nominee.

“We trust Hillary Clinton to convene a national summit of urban reconstruction, investment and jobs and to address this national state of emergency,” he said in written remarks.

“Trust matters. Justice matters. Hillary, you’ve been through the fire. That’s what separates metal from alloy. . . . You have been tested. I know you,” Jackson said.

Clinton knows she needs the black vote.

The civil rights community knows it needs Hillary Clinton.

But given the state of Black America today, it’s not surprising that some black people are asking if either can be trusted.