Hillary Clinton told graduates of Medgar Evers College on Thursday that President Donald Trump is turning his back on the civil rights progress the school’s namesake gave his life for.
Clinton did not refer by name to Republican President Donald Trump, who defeated her in the 2016 presidential election.
But Clinton said Thursday at the college’s commencement at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn that since the election, “white supremacists are emboldened, and their numbers are on the rise.”
She continued, “We see official actions that turn us against one another and turn us back. The Muslim ban is a particularly egregious example — and yes, it is a ban, as the president himself made very clear this week.”
Clinton, who was awarded an honorary degree, noted that some of the graduates were immigrants who had worked their way through school.
She told the story of Yahya Mused, a Yemeni student who funded his tuition by working at a deli, and said: “I’m certainly glad he wasn’t banned from America!”
Referring to Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America great again” Clinton told graduates, “You embody what makes New York and America great already!”
Clinton assailed laws across the country that she said curtail voting rights.
“Look at the efforts to suppress the vote, the principal right that Medgar Evers fought and died for,” she said.
Evers, a civil rights activist, was instrumental in desegregating the University of Mississippi.
On June 12, 1963, he was shot in the back outside his home in Jackson, Mississipi, and died later at a hospital. Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the local White Citizens’ Council, was arrested for the murder.
All-white juries deadlocked twice on De La Beckwith’s guilt. In 1994, De La Beckwith stood trial again based on new evidence, and was convicted.
Demonstrators picketed outside the graduation ceremony Thursday, protesting former President Bill Clinton’s policies on Haiti and Hillary Clinton’s comments in the 1990s that young criminals are “super predators” with “no conscience, no empathy.” Pickets said those comments represented racially coded language.
“Hillary has done nothing for our people,” said picket David Huff, 68, of Brooklyn, a retired worker for New York City’s public housing authority.“ She’s taken from our people.”