From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The fight for better working conditions for private security officers in New York is part and parcel of Martin Luther King's larger struggle for justice during the civil rights movement, Hillary Clinton told a mostly black audience at a labor event Monday.
"Every day you stand up and speak for justice, you are the living embodiment of Dr. King's legacy," Clinton said. "We need to be recommitted to Dr. King's dream. It was a dream that demanded action and he gave that action every day of his life."
Many in the audience cheered when Clinton took the podium, but several booed and some even left as she began speaking.
Clinton said the fight to provide a living wage and health care for security workers and better schools and job opportunities for minorities and women were all part of the same struggle, before going on to talk about the economic challenges many families face in America today and the importance of the labor movement. Her speech was sprinkled with references to the Bible, to King's dream and to his last speech to striking sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968.
"We are called upon today here in New York City to fulfill the unfinished dream and to live the legacy that we have inherited. Each of us, no matter who we are or where we started from is a beneficiary of Dr. King," she said.
"How many of us ever could have dreamed that we would see the day when a woman and an African American are running for the presidency of the United States of America?" she asked, to applause.
"Both Sen. Obama and I know that we are where we are today because of leaders like Dr. King, and generations of men and women like all of you, people who looked into the eyes of their children and saw the promise of a better future, who protested and picketed and faced dogs and tear gas and night sticks against their skulls. Some, like Dr. King, who even gave their lives. But they also voted and, they brought people to the polls and they held leaders accountable for delivering on the promise."
The comments came after several days during which the Clinton and Obama campaigns have been trading barbs over a statement the New York senator made last week that it took Pres. Lyndon Johnson to pass the civil rights legislation for which Martin Luther King, Jr. was fighting. Some interpreted the statement as diminishing the role of King in the civil rights movement, but Clinton has said that was not her intention.
The senator attended the event with local union, clergy, political and community leaders as part of a campaign to raise salaries and improve working conditions and access to health care for private security officers.