“Coming here tonight wasn’t the easiest”: Hillary Clinton speaks at Children’s Defense Fund gala

Chin up.
Chin up.
Image: Reuters/Joshua Roberts
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

In her first public appearance since conceding the election to president-elect Donald Trump last week, Hillary Clinton made an heartfelt plea to her supporters “not to give up.”

“I know this isn’t easy. I know that over the past week a lot of people have asked themselves whether America was the country we thought it was,” Clinton said at a gala in Washington DC  last night for the Children’s Defense Fund. “The divisions laid bare by this election run deep. But please listen to me when I say this: America is worth it. Our children are worth it.”

Clinton spoke honestly about how challenging the past week has been. “I will admit, coming here tonight wasn’t the easiest thing for me,” she said. ”There have been a few times this past week where all I wanted to do was curl up with a good book and our dogs and never leave the house again.”

In a speech addressing the importance of bipartisanship and volunteer work, Clinton urged her supporters to stay engaged and resolute, and focused on the importance of working to improve the future of disadvantaged children. “America is worth it. Our children are worth it,” she said. “Believe in our country, fight for our values and never, ever give up.”

Clinton interned with the Children’s Defense Fund,a non profit organization that advocates for the rights of disadvantaged children, in the summer of 1970, while she was at Yale Law School. She then joined the organization in 1972 as a young attorney, shortly after graduating. Later, she became a board member and chaired the organization until she became First Lady. While campaigning for the presidency, Clinton frequently mentioned her work on behalf of children’s rights, including knocking on doors to research a report on education for children with disabilities.

In her introductory remarks, Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, a long-time friend of Clinton’s, reminded the crowd that Clinton led the popular vote. ”So we’re going to say she’s the people’s president,” Edelman said.

Clinton’s voice faltered as she spoke about the challenges faced by late mother, Dorothy Howell Rodham, who passed away in 2011.  ”I dream of going up to her and sitting next to her and taking her in my arms and saying ‘Look, look at me and listen: You will survive,” said Clinton. ” You will have a family of your own. Three children. And as hard as it might be to imagine, your daughter will grow up to be a United States senator, represent our country as Secretary of State and win more than 62 million votes as president of the United States.”

Clinton’s remarks about the need to keep on working resonated with many following the speech. “Service is the rent we pay for living,” said Clinton. “You don’t get to stop paying rent just because things didn’t go your way.”

Clinton’s words about the need to move on and the importance of remaining committed to service and volunteerism echoed those of president Barack Obama, who this week assured Democratic National Committee members that he would be getting involved in community organizing after the end of his term. “You’re allowed to mope for a week and a half—maybe two if you really need it,” Obama said. “But after that, we have to brush ourselves off and get back to work.”