Why I’m with HER

Seven proud Democrats took to the podium yesterday evening to address the Convention

Social workers, former students, and community activists, one by one community members from Pennsylvania, Arkansas, and Washington, D.C. reflected on the ways in which Hillary Clinton’s leadership and hard work had affected them personally—and why they’re standing with her.

Photo credit: Elena Jackendoff

Thaddeus Desmond, a Philadelphia-based social worker, spoke to Hillary’s work championing support for children and working families. She has proven her dedication, Desmond said, through lifelong devotion to clearing the way for children to achieve greatness regardless of circumstance. “A fight for our kids is a fight for our future,” Desmond said. And that’s exactly what Hillary plans to do.

Dynah Haubert, a lawyer who works for Disability Rights Pennsylvania, described Clinton’s work with the Children’s Defense Fund. After college, Clinton could easily have gone to work at a law firm, but instead she chose to work pro bono. She spent long days going door to door, gathering stories about children who were affected by disability or discrimination, and made it her mission to fight for them.

Kate Burdick, a staff attorney at the Juvenile Law Center, spoke about how children and teens often used to be improperly housed in the same prison cells as adults. With Hillary at the head of the call to end the improper placement, however, the state ended this practice. She pushed to not allow these convicted youths to fall behind—not only while they were in juvenile detention but also when they were released. Burdick emphasized that Clinton has been “… quietly leading the fight” from behind the scenes.

Anton Moore, founder of a South Philadelphia non-profit organization called Unity in the Community, described Hillary as a champion of ending segregation who has prompted schools to break down barriers to further integrate their students. Hillary kept on these schools until she saw for herself that they had accepted all children.

Dustin Parsons, from Little Rock, Arkansas, spoke from his personal experience as a student during the time Hillary led initiatives to reform public schools. He explained how Hillary evaluated schools by something she called “The Chelsea Test”: if the system wasn’t good enough for her daughter Chelsea, then it wasn’t good enough for any child. Parsons saw his school, once second to last in the nation, rise with Hillary’s aid. He closed by humbly announcing that he is now a teacher in those very schools, continuing to build upon the improvements Hillary once made.

Danielle Mellott is a mother who spoke brightly about Clinton’s work on the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act. She related that Clinton’s work allowed her to adopt her son, a young man who was 17 at the time and needed a home. She told the crowd how seamlessly he fit into their family, and how grateful she was that Clinton brought families together that didn’t even know they needed one another.

When Jelani Freeman took to the stage, he illustrated how long before Hillary held elected office she had fought for kids. Freeman was a “kid in the system” that needed fighting for. Once a child turns eighteen they are phased out of foster care, he described; and children who often went from home to home were expected to achieve their high school diploma — and then turn and walk out into the world on an unstable foundation. But every child deserves to live up to their God-given potential, he said — and Hillary was the woman that helped him rise to his: She had set up a scholarship program in her Senate office especially for youths who had aged out of foster care to intern with her, giving people like him a chance. It was then when she told Freeman, “I am proud of you.”

— Hayley Richard