Last night, Hillary Clinton made her first public appearance since delivering her concession speech on November 9. Speaking at a Washington, D.C. event for the Children’s Defense Fund, the organization where she worked at the beginning of her career, Clinton admitted that “coming here tonight wasn’t the easiest thing for me.”
The CDF, a nonprofit advocacy group, has worked for more than four decades to combat poverty, prevent abuse and neglect and provide access to health care and education to millions of underprivileged children. Clinton worked with the organization after graduating law school and was introduced by civil rights activist Marian Wright Edelman, who founded the organization in 1973. “I am so proud of her in so many ways,” Edelman said, before noting that Clinton continues to lead president-elect Donald Trump in the popular vote. “So we’re going to say she’s the people’s president.”
The organization honored Clinton for “a lifetime of service.” In her speech, Clinton stressed the importance of service, which she called “the rent we pay for living. You don’t get to stop paying rent just because things didn’t go your way.” Fittingly, she addressed the pain she felt after losing to the president-elect at the ballot box. “I know many of you are deeply disappointed about the results of the election,” Clinton said to the crowd at the gala. “I am too, more than I can ever express. There have been a few times this past week when all I wanted to do is just to curl up with a good book or our dogs and never leave the house again.”
Nevertheless, Clinton made an emotional plea to the crowd to focus on helping underprivileged children. “I know this isn’t easy. I know that over the past week a lot of people have asked themselves whether America was the country we thought it was. The divisions laid bare by this election run deep. But please listen to me when I say this: America is worth it. Our children are worth it.”
Clinton reminded her supporters to “stay engaged on every level,” and acknowledged the racial tensions and hostilities that coursed through an often heated election cycle. She told the crowd about a young girl she met on the campaign trail in Nevada who feared her parents would be deported. “No child should have to live with fear like that,” Clinton said. “No child should be afraid to go to school because they’re Latino or African-American or Muslim or because they have a disability. We should protect our children and help them love themselves and love others.”
Clinton became noticeably emotional when she spoke of the struggles of her late mother, Dorothy Howell Rodham. “I dream of going up to her,” Clinton said, “and sitting next to her and taking her in my arms and saying ‘Look, look at me and listen: You will survive. You will have a family of your own. Three children. And as hard as it might be to imagine, your daughter will grow up to be a United States senator, represent our country as Secretary of State and win more than 62 million votes as president of the United States.'”
America, she continued, “is still the greatest country in the world. This is still the place where anyone can beat the odds. It’s up to each and every one of us to keep working to make America better and stronger and fairer.”
After her trip to Washington, Clinton was set to return to New York. She has no further public events on her immediate schedule. The event also celebrated the achievements of five high-achieving students who have excelled academically and volunteered in their communities despite personal hardship. The CDF awarded each high school senior with a $10,000 scholarship and a personal laptop to aid them in the college application process.