Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton spoke candidly about race Monday afternoon during a speech before the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She painted a picture of the disparities communities of color face in many aspects of life in America and pledged to address them "on day one" if elected president.
Clinton received standing ovations, loud cheers and backup from an organ — a sign of approval at many black churches — as she addressed the police killings of black Americans, most recently those of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota.
She said Americans "can't ignore" that more black Americans are killed by police than any other racial group.
"We can't wish it away," Clinton said of the disparities in policing in black communities in America.
She called for more training for police officers to avoid bias and prevent the overuse of lethal force. And she called on white Americans to empathize with black Americans and the struggles they face.
"Ending systemic racism requires contributions from us all, especially those of us who haven't experienced it ourselves," Clinton said. "We need to recognize our privilege and practice humility, rather than assume our experiences are everyone's experiences."
But Clinton also spoke of the challenges law enforcement officers face every day, saying that "empathy works both ways."
"We've got to see the world through their eyes, too," Clinton said.
"We need to recognize our privilege and practice humility, rather than assume our experiences are everyone's experiences." — Hillary Clinton
"If we are looking for inspiration, let's go to one of the officers killed yesterday. Ten days ago, Montrell Jackson, a young African-American police officer in Baton Rouge, posted a message on Facebook. He wrote so honestly and powerfully about the struggle of being black and wearing blue in today's America," Clinton said before reading Jackson's post, in which he described the hate he felt both in a cop uniform and out of it.
"That, my friends, is the strength of America," Clinton said of Jackson's post. "Men like Montrell Jackson. Despite all our challenges, that spirit of love and community must guide us still. We have to heal the divides that remain, make the United States what it should be, stronger and fairer, more opportunity for every one of our people."
Clinton addressed the NAACP in Cincinnati, Ohio — a roughly three-and-a-half-hour drive from Cleveland, where Republicans were gathered for their convention to nominate Donald Trump as their presidential standard bearer.
Trump declined the opportunity to speak at the NAACP event, which has been attended in the past by previous Republican presidential hopefuls, including Mitt Romney.
Clinton said Trump would not work to help fix the problems black Americans face. She added that if Trump disagrees with that statement, he won't be able to defend himself — because he turned down the NAACP's invite to speak.
"He might say otherwise if he were here, but he declined your invitation," Clinton said to raucous applause.