PHILADELPHIA — A group of women whose children died at the hands of law enforcement officers, through gun violence or in other contentious circumstances rallied Democrats in support of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: The center strikes back Democratic clamor grows for select committee on Jan. 6 attack White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE on Tuesday evening.


The appearance by the so-called Mothers of the Movement at the Democratic National Convention here was a powerfully emotional moment. The group was greeted with a standing ovation and chants of “black lives matter.” As they spoke, a hush fell over the previously rambunctious Wells Fargo Center and some delegates began to cry.

Three of the eight women on the stage spoke: Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland, who died in a Texas jail cell in disputed circumstances last year; Lucy McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, who was fatally shot in Florida in November 2012; and Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, who was killed by neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman in Florida the same year.  

“Hillary Clinton isn’t afraid to say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ” McBath told the crowd. “She doesn’t build walls around her heart.”

McBath added that the group’s support of Clinton for president is intended in part to make sure “that this club of heartbroken mothers stops growing.”

Fulton asserted that Clinton has “the courage to fight for commonsense gun legislation,” while Reed-Veal talked about the Democratic nominee as someone who, as president, would “help lead us down the path toward restoration and change.”

But it was the personal reminiscences offered by the women that brought a somber atmosphere over the hall. 

Reed-Veal talked about watching her daughter’s coffin being lowered into the ground almost exactly one year ago. McBath said of her son, “I still wake up every day thinking about how to parent him.” 

The women were preceded by former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderObama: Voting rights bill must pass before next election NYC voters set to decide Vance's replacement amid Trump probe Obama planning first post-2020 fundraiser MORE

He said that Clinton, “as a presidential candidate … has talked about systemic racism in a way that no one else has.” Holder also said the GOP seeks to “brazenly assault the most fundamental right of our democracy, passing laws designed to stop people from voting.”

Black support was vital to Clinton in her primary battle with her left-wing rival, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population Overnight Health Care: Medicaid enrollment reaches new high | White House gives allocation plan for 55M doses | Schumer backs dental, vision, hearing in Medicare Schumer backing plan to add dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare MORE (I-Vt.). In the first primary state with a substantial black population, South Carolina, Clinton beat the senator by almost 50 points. According to exit polls, Clinton received 86 percent of the votes cast by African-Americans in the state.

Clinton’s success or failure in the general election against Donald TrumpDonald TrumpWhat blue wave? A close look at Texas today tells of a different story Democrats go down to the wire with Manchin Trump's former bodyguard investigated in NY prosectors' probe: report MORE will also be heavily dependent upon black support. 

African-Americans turned out in extremely high numbers to vote for President Obama in both 2008 and 2012. It may be too much of a stretch for Clinton to replicate the kind of support the first black president attracted, but she needs to keep any drop-off modest.

She may get help, of a kind, from the deep unpopularity of Trump with nonwhite voters. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released earlier this month saw Trump scoring zero percent black support in the swing states of Pennsylvania and Ohio.