Hillary Clinton said Tuesday America's struggle against racism is "far from finished," and the Confederate flag is a symbol of America’s racist past with no place in the present. The Democratic presidential hopeful told supporters at Christ the King United Church of Christ near Ferguson, Missouri, last week's deadly shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, can't be dismissed as "an isolated incident."
Clinton's remarks, her third round of comments since last Thursday's massacre that left nine African-Americans dead at the hand of a white gunman, were made near the site where a white police officer shot an unarmed African-American teenager last August, prompting nationwide protests. No charges were filed against the police officer, who was found to have acted in self-defense.
"I know it's tempting to dismiss a tragedy like this as an isolated incident, to believe that in today's America, bigotry is largely behind us, that institutionalized racism no longer exists," NBC News quoted the former secretary of state and first lady as saying. "But, despite our best efforts and our highest hopes, America's long struggle with race is far from finished."
Clinton called the Charleston shooting an act of terrorism. She applauded the efforts of Republican leaders in South Carolina to consider removal of the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds. Clinton called the flag a symbol of America’s racist past, adding such racism has no place in the present or future.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul described the flag as “a symbol of human bondage and slavery.” He echoed Clinton’s opinion that such symbolism should end. Bloomberg reported the Republicans are rethinking their understanding of racism. Several Republican leaders have said only explicit acts of racism should be considered real racism. It is yet to be seen if the debate will be extended beyond the Confederate flag.
Clinton, meanwhile, asked retailers not to sell products that include the Confederate flag. Several companies, including Walmart, eBay, Amazon and Sears, have stopped selling such products. Clinton said America should give minorities the tools to “overcome the legacy of discrimination."