Yesha Callahan

Here’s What Happened When Hillary Clinton Met With #BlackLivesMatter Activists


New video has emerged of Hillary Clinton’s closed-door meeting with #BlackLivesMatter activists during a campaign stop in New Hampshire.

During the August 11 meeting, Clinton was pressed on her support for her husband’s 1994 Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act, which many argue is responsible for the escalation of America’s incarceration rate.

You have been, in no uncertain way, partially responsible for this,” one activist tells the former Secretary of State during the encounter.

The members of #BlackLivesMatter Boston also addressed governmental policies that have had a negative impact on Black people’s lives, and wanted Clinton to admit the oppression of Black folks is America’s original sin.

“America’s first drug is free Black labor and turning Black bodies into profit,” one young man states. “The mass incarceration system mirrors the prison plantation system. Until someone takes that message and speaks that truth to white people in this country, so that we can actually take on anti-Blackness as a founding problem in this country, I don’t believe there’ll be a solution.”

Clinton listened patiently to the group’s concerns before admitting there has to be a “reckoning” when it comes healing the divide. However, the former First Lady explained she has to figure out a way to “sell” racial justice to the wider, whiter, public who may not understand what role they play in healing America’s history of racism.

“That’s what I’m trying to put together in a way that I can explain it and sell it,” Clinton told the group. “In politics, if you can’t explain it and can’t sell it, it stays on the shelf.”

“This is now a moment in time, [where] the people behind that consciousness raising and advocacy, they had a plan ready to go.”

During the meeting, Clinton also challenged the group to come up with specific policies they’d like to see implemented at both the local and federal level.

“Your analysis is totally fair. It’s historically fair, it’s psychologically fair, it’s economically fair, but you’re going to have to come together as a movement to say, ‘Here’s what we want done about it.'”

Although Black Lives Matter is a loose, leaderless movement with chapters all across the nation, the organization’s website lists a series of demands, which includes full employment for Black folks, safe housing, and end to mass incarceration, and the de-militarization of local police.

While Clinton isn’t the first candidate to come in contact with #BlackLivesMatter protesters, her meeting was certainly the most tame. Earlier this month Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was prevented from speaking at a rally in Seattle, and last week, Republican candidate Jeb Bush had his rally brought to a swift end by chanting protestors.

  1. August 18, 2015 - Reply

    “Clinton also challenged the group to come up with specific policies they’d like to see implemented at both the local and federal level.”

    – It is a very good point and it is a difference between the activism of the past and a lot of the activism of today.

    • August 18, 2015 - Reply


      it is a good point, but i wouldn’t go as far as saying the activism of the past was much different. what most folks gloss over is the fact that the activism of the past was decades in the making whereas blm is brand new, not even a toddler yet. we can’t compare the organization of the 60s to what’s happening today. these new activists are at the same stage that black voting rights was in in 1890s, i might go as far as saying they’re in the early 20th century just because it shouldn’t take another century to make as much progress. a lot of messages are on the table and it will take time to sort through the most urgent, most important, and nice to have.

  2. August 18, 2015 - Reply

    There are many points to be mentioned here. One is that Black Lives Matter protesters have protested in the streets of Ferguson, New York, and other locations nationwide. They have protested in front of the face of Jeb Bush. So, the BLM movement has been active in a diversity of settings. Also, the Black Lives Matter movement has made many demands in the local and federal levels. I have looked at their websites saying that they want a federal law to ban racial profiling, a federal policy to end the militarization of the local police, a federal policy of ending mandatory minimum sentencing, and other local policies of other things as well (like the elimination of the school to prison pipeline system). There is nothing wrong with discussions. We need discussions.

    The members of the Black Lives Matter movement have every right to ask her questions about the prison industrial complex, etc. For long decades, Hillary Clinton has been working with the political establishment in advancing neoliberal policies (from voting for the Iraq War, praising Henry Kissinger, agreeing with cutting back on SNAP during the 1996 welfare reform act, etc.). She was the Secretary of State and it was her policies that contributed to the US/NATO war crimes in Libya. U.S. policies have aided terrorists killing Black Libyan men, women, and children. There has been pressure sent to Democratic candidates and that is why they have no choice, but to issue various platforms about racial justice matters. There must an end to the War on Drugs, an end to the 1994 Crime Bill, an end to NSA warrantless and an end to oppression. So, the Black Lives Matter has explicitly mentioned plans all over the place. I wonder if Hillary will explicitly condemn the system of white supremacy by name. We don’t want co-option, patronize, or lectures about bringing up an agenda when our people have brought up demands all over. Political independence is the way to go and justice is our aim.

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