Former Secretary of State and Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary R. Clinton was the highlight of the 2016 National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) 45th Annual Convention which took place on? in Washington, D.C.


Hillary Clinton spoke at the convention for journalists of color in Washington, D.C. (AFRO File Photo)

Clinton spoke to about 4,000 professionals of color at the joint convention held at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

In her address, Clinton noted the work of pioneering media professionals such as the late Ethel Payne, the first Black women commentator for a national network (CBS); Ruben Salazar, the first Mexican-American to work for the Los Angeles Times; and Bob Maynard, the first Black to own a large daily newspaper, the Oakland Tribune, and said creating opportunities is a hallmark of her campaign. “As president, I will expand economic opportunities for African Americans and Latinos,” she said.

Clinton joins a list of political and governmental officials who have addressed the Black association, including U.S. Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, as well as John Kerry, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell, who are serving or have served as U.S. secretaries of state. NABJ President Sarah Glover told the gathering that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was extended an invitation to speak but declined.

Clinton’s speech was the key event at the joint conference that featured workshops on career development, a job fair, the latest technology in regards to news gathering and reporting, honoring outstanding media professionals, as well as other social events.

During her speech, Clinton talked about the Great Recession and complimented Obama for his role in turning the country around. “During the Great Recession, Black wealth was cut in half and Latino wealth was cut by 66 percent,” Clinton said. “President Obama doesn’t get the credit for leading us out of the Great Recession. His leadership saved us from another Great Depression.”

Clinton, who served as a U.S. senator from New York from 2001-2009, said when she becomes president “there will be a new comprehensive commitment to Black and Latino communities.”

“In the first 100 days of my presidency, I will pass the biggest investment in jobs in our country’s history,” she said. “I will also invest in rebuilding our infrastructure and I support the plan by Congressman Jim Clyburn that 10 percent of government investment to communities where 20 percent or more of the population had lived below the poverty line for the last 30 years.”

Clinton also pledged to help Black and Latino entrepreneurs access capital, to work to “Ban the Box” that would not allow an employer to inquire about a potential employees’ criminal history at the application stage, to institute a $5 billion program to help returning citizens get good paying jobs, and to support comprehensive immigration reform.

Clinton said she wants people of color to be engaged in the political process. “I want you to hold me accountable as president,” she said.

During the question-and-answer period, Clinton responded to issues such as her use of emails as secretary of state, her trustworthiness, the appeal of Trump and her relationship with Black friends. In closing the session, Clinton said people of color are an important part of her political life. “I hope people take this election seriously because I take you seriously,” she said.

Neil Cummings, who came to the convention with his wife, told the AFRO that he took Clinton’s speech seriously. “It was very relevant what she said to us,” Cummings, who is from New York City, said. “Her speech reinforces the things that we as Black people are looking for in a president. She is thinking about us.”

Kelvin Childs, who works in the communications field, told the AFRO he liked that Clinton provided details. “That has been lacking in the campaign of her opponent,” he said.

There were murmurs in the audience that some of the questions that Clinton answered were frivolous, such as the one about her Black friends. Childs wouldn’t comment on the weight of the questions but said that the candidate was speaking to two audiences. “She was talking to us and she was talking to a national audience,” he said. “People have to listen and evaluate what was said and make up their own minds.”