Left: Hillary Clinton met with elected officials at Christ the King United Church- Photo courtesy of Wesley Bell, Ferguson City Council
By Bri Ehsan, Staff Writer
On June 23rd, Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton made a campaign stop at Christ the King United Church of Christ in north St. Louis County where the pastor is Reverand Traci Blackmon.
The former First Lady, Secretary of State, and New York state Senator met with elected officials from the area and clergy members invited by Pastor Blackmon to speak about the unrest in Ferguson, issues of race relations brought on by the Charleston shooting the week before her visit, and the Confederate flag. Clinton had also arranged a private fundraising event in Grant’s Farm, the former home of President Ulysses S. Grant. The event was hosted by the Busch brewing family and was closed to the public and the media. This is the first Missouri visit made by the Democratic front-runner.
On that evening, Christ the King church, located in Florissant, was filled with local politicians including St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, State Senator Jamilah Nasheed, Ferguson City Councilman Wesley Bell, and Councilwoman Ella Jones. The packed church with high security detail also saw in attendance Brittany Packnett of the Ferguson Commission and Chris Kreshmeyer, president and CEO of Beyond Housing. Clinton’s remarks were brief. She stood at the podium and, in a short yet powerful speech, stated her support for South Carolina’s
decision to remove the Confederate flag from its statehouse. “It shouldn’t fly there. It shouldn’t fly anywhere,” Clinton said.
She also stated her support for the removal of any product containing the Confederate flag. Clinton reserved her opinions and mostly listened to panels containing Brittany Packnett of Ferguson Commission, Jennings School District’s Superintendent Tiffany Anderson, and Washington University professor Jason Purnell.
Though she voiced her opinions about Ferguson, the unrest of August 2014 was not the focal point of her speech. Regarding law enforcement, she acknowledged that police officers need to respect the needs of the people and the communities they have vowed to protect. Though Ferguson was not the centerpiece of her speech, Clinton, at one point during the evening, mentioned that “all lives matter” as a nod of acknowledgment to the “Black Lives Matter” campaign founded in Ferguson.
Interestingly, Clinton’s visit to St. Louis was a source of excitement for Missouri Republicans. According to state Republican Party Chairman John Hancock, her arrival here will reaffirm her critics of the fact that Clinton is “out-of-touch, untrustworthy, and scandal-plagued.” Hancock believes that the number of people in opposition of Clinton is growing and her campaign stop in Missouri will only help that number increase.
Despite the Right Wing’s depiction about Clinton losing support in Missouri, the people of St. Louis offered her a warm welcome and opened their hearts to her about racial issues now plaguing our communities. Clinton seemed to be right at home at the church of Christ the King and showed a genuine interest in listening to the people’s opinion. When asked about the meeting with Clinton, Councilman Bell said, “I appreciate that she spoke about reaching out to those who do not feel like a part of the process, and she understands the systemic problems facing our region and nation.”