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Nine black women whose sons and daughters died in racially-charged incidents took the stage at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday as party delegates shouted “Black Lives Matter.” They urged voters to elect Hillary Clinton, arguing that she cares deeply about racial injustice and will try to reduce tensions between police and communities of color.
The decision of Clinton’s campaign to have these women on stage at the convention was the latest illustration of the growing influence of the Black Lives Matter movement. This anti-racism campaign, which did not even exist at the time of the DNC in 2012, has successfully pushed Clinton, President Obama and the broader Democratic Party to focus more on issues of policing and racial disparities.
Clinton has repeatedly used the phrase “Black Lives Matter” during her campaign and has called for a number of police reforms, such as creating a national standard for when officers can use force and increasing implicit bias training for law enforcement personnel.
“This isn’t about being politically correct. This is about saving our children,” said Sybrina Fulton, whose 17-year-old son Trayvon Martin was killed in Florida in 2012 in a controversial incident that drew so much national attention that President Obama eventually said that “Travyon Martin could have been me.”
She added, “In memory our children, we are imploring all of you to vote this Election Day.”
Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, said "Hillary Clinton isn't afraid to say that black lives matter."
Also on stage were the mothers of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, whose deaths at the hands of police officers in 2014 started the national protests that have grown into a civil rights movement.
In the wake of a series of shootings of police officers, most notably in Dallas earlier this month, Democrats took steps on Tuesday to ensure they were not cast as anti-police, as Donald Trump and some conservatives argue. Before the nine mothers took the stage, former Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a speech in which he repeatedly praised law enforcement officials. Holder was followed by Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay, who argued that the police and minority communities could resolve their differences.