U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand appeared in Albany today, speaking with members of the New York State Chapter of the NAACP. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports the Democrat campaigning for re-election focused her speech on racial and social inequalities.
The NAACP New York Chapter opened its annual conference Friday afternoon at Albany’s Desmond Hotel.
Chapter President Dr. Hazel Dukes opened her remarks by mentioning that the organization is non-partisan, but opposing Republican President Donald Trump and his administration’s policies dominated the conversation.
“We know the agony that those mothers are having when their children are snatched from them at the border because fore parents had the same thing. We were lost. Some of us don’t know the history of our great grandparents because they were hung,” said Dukes. “So we want America not to be ‘great again,’ but we want America to live up to its Democracy.”
Dukes introduced Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as the conference’s guest speaker. Gillibrand, a Democrat campaigning for re-election, has enjoyed support from the NAACP. She has consistently received an “A” on the group’s annual Legislative Report Cards.
Gillibrand’s speech addressed racial, social, and economic inequalities. She encouraged those in the audience to stand up and speak out against injustice.
“When we let hatred and discrimination fester, when we remain silent when blacks are attacked, or the working class, or immigrants, or Jews, or Muslims, or LGBTQ members of our community, it degrades the entire community,” said Gillibrand. “What happens to the least among us happens to all of us.”
Gillibrand continued her calls to flip leadership of the House and Senate. In November’s election, she faces a challenge from Republican Chele Farley of New York City.
Harkening the efforts of Coretta Scott King, Gillibrand said all should be fighting for full employment.
“And I get very frustrated with the Washington crowd. Because they say, ‘Oh, four percent unemployment. It’s such a success, it’s such a success.’ Well, no, it’s not a success if you’re a young, black woman living in an inner-city and has 11 percent unemployment rate. Or a young black male living in some cities with a 12 percent unemployment rate. Or a young veteran coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan with a 20 percent unemployment rate. So it’s not good enough to just say we’re at four percent unemployment because so many people are left behind in that statistic,” said Gillibrand.
Gillibrand said ignoring inequality “hardens our heart to look the other way.”
“But this fight cannot be left to just men and women of color. This fight has to be waged by people like me who look like me. White women who have positions of power must be fighting this fight every day alongside all those who are also fighting this,” said Gillibrand.
Speaking with reporters after her speech, Gillibrand reiterated her opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who is facing decades-old sexual assault allegations.
“Unfortunately Judge Kavanaugh does not have the disposition, character, integrity or honesty to be a supreme court justice,” said Gillibrand.
The full Senate is expected to vote Saturday on Kavanaugh’s nomination.