Clinton to Atlanta activists: ‘We are better than this’

Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference annual convention in Atlanta on Friday, July 19, 2019. HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Democrat Hillary Clinton urged civil rights activists in Atlanta Friday to respond to President Donald Trump’s racist tweets that four liberal congresswoman of color should “go back” to their countries by getting mobilized for the 2020 vote.

“We are better than this, but we better start proving it, not just saying it,” the 2016 Democratic nominee told a crowd of hundreds at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s convention in Atlanta.

“It can’t just be a battle fought on Twitter. It has to be fought and won at the ballot box - which is the only place that matters.”

She also praised the work of the civil rights group once led by Martin Luther King Jr., saying we “need you now more than ever.”

“There’s no doubt the struggles we face now are as consequential as those we faced in the 1950s,” she said, but added that activists need to “do a better job of persuading young people to join this cause.”

“There are so many fights to be waged. Because when our civil and human rights are being trampled on every day, the need for a just society becomes starker.”

Charles Steele, the group’s president, said he also invited several of the 2020 White House hopefuls to attend, but none confirmed.

It is the Democrat’s second formal appearance in Atlanta since she was defeated by President Donald Trump in 2016. In a visit two years ago, she told a crowd of 4,000 at the Fox Theatre that the “fever is breaking and the tide is turning” against Republicans.

The Clintons have a long history in Georgia.

Bill Clinton won Georgia’s primary in 1992 – the first primary victory of his campaign – with the help of then-Gov. Zell Miller. He also carried the state in November, though Republicans have captured Georgia in every presidential vote since then.

Hillary Clinton was trounced by Barack Obama in Georgia’s 2008 primary, but easily defeated Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary as she swept most of the South. In November, she flipped metro Atlanta’s suburbs but lost the state by 5 percentage points to Trump.

- Staff writer Ernie Suggs contributed to this report.

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