“The very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining over and over again your reason for being,” – novelist Maya Angelou.
Hillary Rodham Clinton is arguably America’s quintessential gutsy woman. She has had the grit and grace to serve as the nation’s former First Lady, a U.S. senator, President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State and a Democrat presidential candidate, who nearly lost to President Donald Trump. She has also co-authored The Book of Gutsy Women, which profiles her courageous political journey, and those of others like her.
Because of her stellar, if not remarkable career achievements, Secretary Clinton, was praised and honored at the 2019 SCLC annual convention by SCLC First Lady, Cathelean Steele. She was presented with the civil rights organization’s top trophy, it’s Realizing The Dream award at its 61st national July convention at Atlanta’s Hyatt hotel entitled: Maintaining The Global Village…Housing, Health, and Our Common Humanity.
“I’m so happy to stand here with Secretary Clinton,” said Mrs. Steele during her SCLC Women’s Empowerment Luncheon. “She has realized many, many dreams and that’s the epitome of an empowered woman. I have been honored to sit in her office when she was Secretary of State, and to be in her presence several times. I don’t care what the Electoral College votes say, she is my President.”
“From your lips to God’s ears,” Clinton quipped in reply to her humble hostess, the founder of SCLC’s programs. “She and I have been comrades on many issues. I am grateful to you and Dr. Steele and to SCLC for this honor. Cathelean and Charles have been good friends and supporters over the years. It has meant the world to both Bill (Clinton) and me to have your friendship and your advice, as we have all tried to realize the ‘Dream’- a never ending quest.”
Secretary Clinton applauded SCLC and its storied history started by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and had warm words of encouragement for today’s SCLC leadership team, opining that the group remains relevant and required. “It makes my heart swell that you’re still at it; that you have not folded up your tent,” Clinton said. “You know what, we need you now more than ever.”
She says SCLC remains America’s “North Star” in the continuing struggle for freedom, justice and equality. “There is no doubt that the struggles that we face right now at this point in our history are as consequential as those that were faced back in the late 1950’s when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took the helm of this storied organization,” asserted Secretary Clinton. “It is not a time to look backwards. It is a time to reassert our commitment to the future that will realize the ‘Dream’; but to recognize that the work is never over. We’re a little surprised that we must be having the same conversations; arguing over the same points but that is the hand we have been dealt.”
During Secretary Clinton’s riveting and robust speech to Mrs. Steele’s standing room only SCLC luncheon audience, she saluted the civil rights career accomplishments of esteemed 98-year-old former SCLC president, Dr. Joseph Lowery, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Barack Obama.
“I know that all of our prayers and thoughts are with him,” she said. “I remember the last time I saw him three years ago, and he was just as determined then as he was as a young man. If he can stay determined; if all of us who are on the other side of our lives can stay determined, then we must do a better job of persuading young people to join this cause. There are so many noble fights to be waged. The truth is that when our civil and human rights are being trampled on and marginalized, the need for a just and humane society becomes even stronger.”
The battle for human rights and social justice must be won at the ballot box Clinton passionately and persuasively argued to applause. “It’s the only place that matters,” she said. “People need to get off the benches and come back into the arena. We have to do a much better job convincing everyone of the importance of their vote, and then standing up as Stacey Abrams has done to make sure your vote is cast and counted.”
The 2020 Democratic presidential race has the most female candidates in US. history. “When I ran there were more women in space then women running for president,” she told TV talk show host Stephen Colbert. “There were two, and now, we’ve had enough women to field a basketball team. It’s really a big step forward.”
Both she and her daughter co-author, Chelsea Clinton, pick young climate activist Geta Thunberg as the “gutsy” woman who currently impresses them most. “I was fascinated by this schoolgirl starting this strike for climate change awareness. I thought, wow, that’s pretty ‘gutsy’. That first day nobody joined her, and it was a pretty lonely enterprise. Then to see her speak truth to power in the United Nations to leaders who should know better and refuse to take action. I loved that.”