High-level visitor: Claflin welcomes Hillary Clinton
Nov 14, 2015
Photo credit to Angel Anderson
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton held a town hall meeting at Claflin University in Orangeburg on Saturday to answer questions and talk about the policies she intends to put in place if she is elected.
The town hall meeting was hosted by the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus and moderated by Roland Martin, the host and managing editor of TV One’s “News One Now.” Claflin SGA President Andy Mitchell got the ball rolling by introducing Martin.
Martin then threw the first question at Clinton. The subject was employment, with Martin acknowledging that unemployment rates have dropped by 5 percent with a 9.2 percent decrease for African-Americans. But African-Americans and Latinos still need jobs.
Clinton praised the Obama administration for increasing employment. But she said there is room for progress, particularly with stagnant incomes and an inadequate supply of good jobs.
“We do need a targeted effort at people and communities that have not had the benefits of recovery,” Clinton said.
She intends to have an infrastructure program to put millions of people to work on tunnels, roads, airports and bridges.
More jobs can be generated through combating climate change by building wind turbines and solar panels in order to move away from fossil fuels, Clinton said.
Emphasis also will be placed on fostering small businesses, especially those run by women and minorities, Clinton said.
Martin asked how Clinton plans to create jobs and stop trade unions from freezing out blacks and minorities from employment.
“There must be a program for recruiting and hiring and, where necessary, training people from less-advantaged communities and that’s going to be be my law,” Clinton said. Companies must target and train younger people as well as those in middle age who have lost their jobs because of unfortunate events.
“Reach out to people to apply for federal contracts which give special preference to small businesses,” Clinton said about how small businesses controlled by blacks and minorities cannot now raise enough capital because of factors such as housing.
“There’s a preference in the law for small businesses that are minority and women-owned. I want to make sure that preferences are translated into benefits,” Clinton said as she stressed being passionate on the issue of growing small business.
And people must keep their homes despite failing incomes and impending bankruptcy, she said. “I want to do what I can to help everyone recover.”
Martin pointed out that when Clinton was in Atlanta the week her Claflin visit, young people interrupted her speech with chants of “black lives matter.” Martin asked about her stance on the movement they represent.
Clinton said she is in full support of “Black Lives Matter” and her policies will address criminal justice reforms and incarceration reform. She would reduce sentencing minimums for non-violent crimes.
Clinton plans to deal with discrepancies in the legal treatment of crack and powder cocaine. She would invest more in treatments, reforms, jobs and training programs for those with drug or cocaine-related issues -- rather than having these people locked up.
When the audience began questioning the former first lady and ex-secretary of state, the issue was again jobs.
“This is not just a woman’s issue, this is a family issue and an economic issue,” Clinton said about disparities between pay for men and women.
She promises to enforce the laws on the books and tackle the issue once and for all. Women should receive the same pay as men for the same work.
Addressing a question about gun control, Clinton said, “I understand how politically challenging it is. Ninety people a day die in our country from guns: homicide, suicide and avoidable accidents.
“It’s imperative that people make this a voting issue,” she said.
Clinton priorities would be enforcing laws on universal background checks, closing legal loopholes connected to gun violence and removing immunity enjoyed by gun-manufacturing industries.
On the issue of college costs and in particular reversing the Obama administration’s Parent Plus Loan change that prevented 15,000 students from returning to HBCUs, Clinton said, “I have what’s called ‘my new college compact’ and it does two things. It would affect both State and Claflin in this way: If you are going to a public college/university, you would not have to borrow money for tuition and you would be able to use your Pell Grant if you get one for living expenses.”
Young people must be able to attend college and leave without debts, Clinton said. Allocating $25 billion for HBCUs would reduce the impact of loans.
Raising the minimum wage and pushing for companies to engage in profit sharing will help new graduates get good jobs and pay student debts, she said. “I want to be able to refinance everybody’s student debt.”
Clinton said public schools below the collegiate level also need assistance. They are inadequately funded and lack resources. She would change that.
“I do want … us to support research into medical marijuana because a lot more states have passed medical marijuana than have legalized marijuana,” Clinton said in response to an audience question about the controversial issue. The drug must be moved from Schedule 1 to 2 in order for more research to be done so that one may know the average dosage and which medications do not go along with marijuana.
Regarding medical issues, she also addressed sickle cell anemia and how she is was going to push a bill that would implement federal funding for research for a cure.
“Poverty is debilitating, no matter where it happens or who it affects,” Clinton said in response to Martin stressing that poverty is always being associated with the black community rather than being identified as a universal problem.
Clinton said she would push for empowerment in rural areas for both whites and blacks. She said her policies would make banks move to invest in communities.
On the issues of voting and voter ID laws, Clinton said she supports people being automatically registered when they reach age 18. One of her highest priorities is to get people to register and get a huge turnout at the polls.
Claflin students were interested in the Clinton visit.
“I have always looked forward to meeting Secretary Clinton and the town hall meetings made me continue to view her in a positive light,” said Helen Gabrielle Bryant, a senior majoring in biochemistry.
“Secretary Clinton is an inspiration for women everywhere; she reminded me that no matter what, if you believe in yourself and do your best, then no one can stop you,” Bryant said.
Saturday was Clinton’s second visit to Claflin. She was first here as the 2007 commencement speaker.