Hillary Clinton made history Thursday night when she accepted the Democratic nomination for president, becoming the first woman to head the presidential ticket of a major party. Clinton continued the convention’s overarching theme of ridiculing Republican nominee Donald Trump as too dangerous and unsteady to lead one of the most powerful nations in the world.
But after four days of beating up on Trump, how did Democrats do in addressing issues of importance to African-Americans, one of the constituencies the former First Lady and Secretary of State will need to win the White House in November?
NewsOne spoke with Christina Greer, a professor of political science at Fordham University, about how Democrats performed overall at the convention and particularly on two key issues facing African-Americans: Women’s empowerment, and police killings and gun violence.
Overall Convention: B+
Some of the issues facing Blacks, such as economic empowerment, took a back seat in Philadelphia as party leaders zeroed in on Trump. Almost every speaker, from President Obama on down, talked about how dangerous Trump would be as president. Clinton delivered another blow Thursday night.
“A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons,” Clinton said in one of the best lines of the night.
Greer said Democrats purposely employed different strategies and tactics than in past conventions.
“This convention was unique because there are a lot of [former Democratic presidential candidate] Bernie [Sanders] people not with the program. Democrats are trying to explain to people this is serious, and even if they are lukewarm about Clinton, we need you on board because of Donald Trump,” Greer told NewsOne in an interview from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the convention was held.
“The point of the convention is that they are trying to introduce the concept that you shouldn’t have to make a decision, that your decision should be incredibly clear,” Greer said.
Clinton beefed up her African-American outreach team in early July, even though some polls show Trump with zero percent support among Black voters in key states such as Pennsylvania.
And there were plenty of Black speakers and delegates at the convention addressing a variety of issues. Democrats have also pledged to acknowledge issues such as equal pay for women, protecting reproductive rights, and making college more affordable.
“In my first 100 days, we will work with both parties to pass the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II. Jobs in manufacturing, clean energy, technology and innovation, small business, and infrastructure. If we invest in infrastructure now, we’ll not only create jobs today, but lay the foundation for the jobs of the future. And we will transform the way we prepare our young people for those jobs,” Clinton said.
Women’s Empowerment: B
Clinton’s nomination is historic for women, noted First Lady Michelle Obama in her well-received speech.
“And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States,” Obama said.
The DNC itself is showing the power of Black women by putting three of them in charge of the convention. While many Black women remain excited about the prospect of the first woman president, there are still issues to be addressed, Greer said.
“A lot of women of color have been highlighted and are in charge, but when Democrats talk about women, there is still this air that it’s White women. This is a big issue with the feminist movement. White women have not been inclusive of Black women and now we are expected to get on board,” Greer said. “But there still seems to be a lack of understanding on the intersection between race and gender. If I’m being paid less at my job, it’s because of my gender but also my skin color.”
And Black women are being counted on to help Clinton reprise the role they played for President Obama in coming out to vote in large numbers.
“Black women can be the fall guy if she doesn’t win. We are pulled into the bubble when it is convenient and pushed out when it’s inconvenient,” added Greer.
Police Killings and Gun Violence: A-
When the mothers of nine Black men, women, and teens killed by police or gun violence took the stage at the Democratic National Convention, many saw it as a hopeful sign in the effort to address both issues.
“It’s a statement that Republicans would never make,” said Angelo Falcón, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy.
Clinton spoke about the issue in her speech.
“We have to heal the divides in our country. Not just on guns. But on race. Immigration. And more. That starts with listening to each other. Hearing each other. Trying, as best we can, to walk in each other’s shoes,” Clinton said. “So let’s put ourselves in the shoes of young black and Latino men and women who face the effects of systemic racism, and are made to feel like their lives are disposable.”
Democrats are still facing heat on the issue from Black Lives Matter activists who are concerned with the equivocation of Black people being killed by police and the deaths of police officers in the line of duty. Obama mentioned police killings in his speech, immediately followed by a reference to police deaths. Clinton did the same.
“Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of police officers, kissing their kids and spouses goodbye every day and heading off to do a dangerous and necessary job. We will reform our criminal justice system from end-to-end, and rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” Clinton said.
Greer said the display from the nine mothers was a powerful statement.
“Even some White liberals still can’t get fully behind Black Lives Matter,” she added. “Whoever made that decision to include Mothers of the Movement made a really powerful decision to say that Black lives do matter.”
How do you think the DNC did on addressing issues important to African-American voters? Sound off in comments.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty