“Whether you support Hillary or not, that’s your belief,” Richardson said. “But the fact that she had enough hope and had enough respect to come to Hillside High School means a lot.”
Breaking the barrier of education
Clinton said she hoped to address the barrier of education for young Americans.
“I think every child in this country deserves a good teacher and a good school regardless of the zip code they live in,” she said.
A product of public schools herself, Clinton said she has watched North Carolina tarnish its educational legacy of the 1990s.
“We watched your Republican Governor and legislature slowly eroding the base for public education in this state,” she said.
While campaigning for her husband, Clinton said she came up with the "Chelsea standard" — a measure she used of whether she would enroll her own daughter in any given school. And more should meet it, she said.
“There should not be a single school in the country where anyone wouldn’t want to send their child,” she said.
Minority education was of particular interest for Hillside seniors like Imani Hawley, who planned to ask Clinton how her administration would inspire young Americans in minority communities.
Hawley said she hoped the rally would encourage Hillside students — particularly first-time voters like herself — to personally consider Clinton's positions.
“I want everybody to really listen and formulate their own opinion,” she said.
Access to arts education, something she was fortunate enough to have, should be universal in public schools, Clinton said.
“You should not have to go to a wealthy school in a wealthy suburb to get art and music," she said.
Jalen McGee, another senior at Hillside, said the school is particularly well known for its arts and sports. And Clinton related to this reputation, saying she, too, loved to sing. Though she jokingly revealed Chelsea was less of a fan of her voice as a child.
Not a single issue nation, candidate
Durham Mayor Bill Bell said Clinton is a candidate who understands the wide range of issues that need to be addressed in an opening speech.
“Education is not the only barrier that exists because America is not a single issue country,” he said.
And Clinton’s speech continued to praise President Barack Obama’s work with the Affordable Care Act, as well as call for the final offering of equal pay to women and the end to voter suppression in states like North Carolina.
“It is outrageous in 2016 we have to say we are for voting rights,” Clinton said.
As Congressman G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., described in his introduction, Clinton said she will go after the gun lobby.
“There is not another industry in America that has that kind of free pass,” Clinton said.
The talk closed as her introducers began, with encouragements to go out to the polls between now and the North Carolina primary date of March 12.
“Stakes are too high for any of us to stay on the sidelines,” said N.C. Rep. Larry Hall, D-Durham, and a fourth generation alum of Hillside High School.