Hillary Clinton said Monday that “everyone in this country should stand firmly behind” the idea that “black lives matter,” just days after two of her Democratic rivals faced protests about racial justice at a liberal conference in Phoenix, Arizona.
In a Facebook chat, Clinton was asked by a Washington Post reporter what she would have said to the activists at Netroots Nation, which the former Secretary of State declined to attend.
“Black lives matter. Everyone in this country should stand firmly behind that,” she replied. “We need to acknowledge some hard truths about race and justice in this country, and one of those hard truths is that that racial inequality is not merely a symptom of economic inequality. Black people across America still experience racism every day.”
In her response, Clinton also cited body cameras for police, reforms to the nation’s prison system, a push for expanded voting rights and universal early childhood education as issues that she will tackle in order to address structural racism.
The comments by Clinton Monday represent something a do-over for the 2016 presidential contender. Last month, she was criticized for saying the phrase "all lives matter" at a historic black church in Missouri.
Her remarks in the Facebook chat appeared to be a contrast to responses from Democratic presidential candidates Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, who both faced jeers from the protesters at the conference on Saturday.
O’Malley was booed for telling demonstrators “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter."
Activists in the protest movement say that statements like “all lives matter” take away from a specific focus on the violence that African Americans have faced at the hands of police.
O’Malley later apologized for his statement, saying “I did not understand the tremendous passion, commitment and feeling and depth of feeling that all of us should be attaching to this issue.”
Sanders, who is generally viewed as a favorite of the Netroots Nation community, also faced complaints and shouting from protesters as he tried to deliver a speech largely focused on economic inequality.
“Black lives, of course, matter. I spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and for dignity,” he said.