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Hillary Clinton, in Manhattan speech, sketches plan to combat ‘systemic racism’

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton meets with Marc

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton meets with Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, and the Rev. Al Sharpton in Manhattan on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Tuesday outlined plans to combat “systemic racism” and improve economic opportunities for African-Americans, promising investments in job creation and “end-to-end reform” of the criminal justice system.

Speaking to more than 200 supporters at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Manhattan, Clinton said “there are very real barriers holding back African-Americans.” She cited higher incarceration and unemployment rates and higher rejection rates for home loans.

Clinton said Tuesday that she would invest $20 billion to create jobs for young people and increase funding for historically black colleges and universities. She also called for “end-to-end reform in our criminal justice system.”

“These inequities are wrong, but they’re also immoral,” Clinton said. “It’ll be the mission of my presidency to bring them to an end.”

She continued: “We have to begin by facing up to the reality of systemic racism. These are not only problems of economic inequality, these are problems of racial inequality and we’ve got to say that loudly and clearly.”

Clinton’s speech came as she and Democratic primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont continued to court minority voters before Saturday’s Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina Democratic primary on Feb. 27.

Clinton and Sanders also face primaries next month in ethnically diverse states including Florida, Texas, and Georgia.

In the past week, both campaigns have announced high-profile endorsements from African-American leaders.

The political action committee of the Congressional Black Caucus threw its support behind Clinton.

Sanders has picked up endorsements from entertainer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte and Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died after he was placed in a choke hold by NYPD officers during an arrest attempt in 2014.

Clinton was escorted to the stage by prominent Democrats including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Attorney General Eric Holder and Rep. Charles Rangel, of Manhattan.

Earlier Tuesday, Clinton, a former U.S. Senator from New York who also served as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, met with the Rev. Al Sharpton, NAACP president Cornell W. Brooks and National Urban League president Marc Morial in Lower Manhattan.

“Secretary Clinton demonstrated an ease and familiarity with many of the issues we discussed this morning,” Morial said after the series of meetings.

Sharpton, who last week sat down with Sanders, called Clinton “very candid and open,” but said he was not ready to make an endorsement.

With Matthew Chayes

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