She may have lost, but she found her voice.
Hillary Clinton implored graduates of Medgar Evers College to exercise their right that the university’s namesake civil rights activist died to achieve in a commencement address on Thursday at the Barclays Center.
“Previous generations may have begun the struggle for voting rights, but I’ll tell that you none of our struggles over,” she said. “All the speaking out and protesting doesn’t mean much if you don’t help choose the elected officials who have ability to shape your world.”
The former First Lady and U.S. Secretary of State praised diversity in her address to students of the historically black college, throwing a not-so-subtle barb at President Trump days after he requested that the U.S. Supreme Court enact his controversial travel ban on citizens from six Muslim-majority nations entering the country.
“You come from 94 countries and speak 44 languages — you embody what makes New York and America great already,” said Clinton.
She invoked a graduate of Yemeni descent who graduated with honors as the type of hard-working person who would be discriminated against by the polarizing order.
“He came to this country to work in a deli across the street from Medgar Evers College, and he made sandwiches for students and professors,” she said. “Today he is graduating with honors and I’m certainly glad he wasn’t banned from America.”
Clinton, who visited the Crown Heights school named for slain activist Medgar Evers during her primary campaign last April, urged the crowd to persevere in the face of adversity, citing her loss to Trump in last year’s presidential election and the hardships that Evers’s widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, faced after his death.
“I’ve had a few setbacks in my own life, and losing an election is devastating especially considering who I lost to,” she said. “But that pales in comparison to what Myrlie went through, and frankly what a lot of people go through today.”
Evers, a civil rights activist who fought against segregation at the University of Mississippi, was assassinated in 1963 by a white supremacist who was not tried for the crime until 1994.
Borough President Adams joined Clinton at the university’s 46th commencement, and did not resist his own opportunity to rail against adversity, or Trump, in a speech.
“Don’t think for one moment there are not going to be days when you feel like you don’t want to get out of bed,” he said. “Don’t think that some chump like Trump is going to take away your ability to be the president of the United States. You got to get up.”
The City University of New York chancellor awarded Clinton with an honorary degree following her address.