Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Tuesday said racism in America is “far from finished” and called the Confederate flag “a symbol of our nation's racist past” during a discussion at a church near last year’s violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
The presidential frontrunner has focused her campaign on race relations following last week’s deadly shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, where a white gunman is suspected of killing nine African-American church members. Her remarks at Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Missouri, marked the third time she has spoken about the hate crime since Thursday.
“I know it’s tempting to dismiss a tragedy like this as an isolated incident, to believe that in today’s America, bigotry is largely behind us, that institutionalized racism no longer exists,” Clinton said. “But, despite our best efforts and our highest hopes, America’s long struggle with race is far from finished.”
The former secretary of State called the shooting “an act of racist terrorism” and applauded Republican leaders in South Carolina for pushing for the Confederate flag to be removed from the Capitol grounds.
She called the flag “a symbol of our nation's racist past that has no place in our present or our future, it shouldn't fly there, it shouldn't fly anywhere.”
She also called on sellers to follow Wal-Mart’s lead and stop selling products that include the Confederate flag. Amazon, eBay and Sears have also stopped selling it.
Clinton said the country must give minorities the tools to “ overcome the legacy of discrimination.” That begins with early childhood education and continues with easier access to vote, including universal registration when Americans turn 18, she said.
She also called for “common sense gun reform” and increasing communication between both police and the communities they serve.
The church she spoke at Tuesday was just a short drive from last year’s violent protests in Ferguson after an 18-year-old unarmed black man was shot and killed by a white police officer. The officer was cleared of any wrongdoing after investigators found he acted in self-defense.