Hillary Clinton Recalls New Bedford Days in Historic Speech

In a wide-ranging speech, Clinton discussed her early work with the Children's Defense Fund.

Hillary Clinton DNC

Photo of Hillary Clinton via AP

Proving once again that there’s always a Massachusetts connection when it comes to national politics, Hillary Clinton made sure to mention her time in the Bay State during her speech last night accepting the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Her remarks, which covered a wide range of issues, from elements of the Black Lives Matter movement to a number of points about income inequality and debt-free college that were familiar to passionate Bernie Sanders supporters, also touched on an issue that she’s made a hallmark of her time as a public figure: childcare.

Midway through her speech, she talked about the influence of her time with the Children’s Defense Fund, and how it inspired her to be more politically active, saying, “It became clear to me that simply caring is not enough. To drive real progress, you have to change both hearts and laws. You need both understanding and action.”

It’s an experience she refers to often—it’s included in the biographical information on her site, and she has a long association with the group dating back to the 70s. Her first job after graduating from Yale Law School in 1973 was with the Children’s Defense Fund. The nonprofit, which strives to advocate for the needs of all children, particularly those who may have obstacles, put her to work in New Bedford, Mass.. She went door to door to collect data from poverty-stricken families, which was eventually used to stop schools from “pushing out disadvantaged, minority and disabled children”, per the Washington Post‘s deep dive into her relationship with the group. She later joined the board in 1978, and was the chair from ’86 to ’92.

That’s not to say it’s all been smooth sailing. The relationship has been fraught from time to time, as the nonprofit’s leader, Marian Wright Edelman, spoke out strongly against Bill Clinton’s welfare reform efforts in the 1990s. But there has been a cooling down of tensions lately, with Edelman’s husband telling the Post, “I strongly believe that Hillary is the most qualified candidate for president.” And however the Edelmans may feel about her now, it’s pretty clear those days are still shaping her today. Watch her full speech below.