Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called on Americans to focus on racial justice and expressed her support for the Black Lives Matter movement in a Sunday speech at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston.
Warren referenced the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) focus on civil rights issues and said, “If his life and death had a meaning, it was that we should not hate but love one another; we should use our powers not to create conditions of oppression that lead to violence, but conditions of freedom that lead to peace.”
She said that since the Civil Rights Act, the United States has not come close enough to equality.
“Fifty years later, we have made real progress toward creating the conditions of freedom — but we have not made enough progress,” she said, according to her prepared remarks.
“Fifty years later, violence against African Americans has not disappeared. Consider law enforcement. The vast majority of police officers sign up so they can protect their communities. They are part of an honorable profession that takes risks every day to keep us safe. We know that. But we also know – and say – the names of those whose lives have been treated with callous indifference,” Warren continued, referencing Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray and Michael Brown.
Warren called for a focus on violence, voting rights, and economic justice for black Americans.
“I speak today with the full knowledge that I have not personally experienced and can never truly understand the fear, the oppression, and the pain that confronts African Americans every day,” she said. “But none of us can ignore what is happening in this country. Not when our black friends, family, neighbors literally fear dying in the streets.”
“The first civil rights battles were hard fought. But they established that Black Lives Matter. That Black Citizens Matter. That Black Families Matter,” Warren said as she ended her speech.
DeRay Mckesson, a leader with Black Lives Matter, praised Warren’s speech in an interview with the Washington Post.
“Senator Warren’s speech clearly and powerfully calls into question America’s commitment to black lives by highlighting the role that structural racism has played and continues to play with regard to housing discrimination and voting rights,” he said. “And Warren, better than any political leader I’ve yet heard, understands the protests as a matter of life or death — that the American dream has been sustained by an intentional violence and that the uprisings have been the result of years of lived trauma.”