Former President Bill Clinton spoke Wednesday night at the NAACP Convention in San Antonio, as the group wrapped up its annual gathering.
Clinton was at the NAACP meeting at the Henry Gonzalez B. Convention Center to present the organization’s Spingarn Medal to former California state speaker of the house and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown Jr. for his many years of service in public office. The 84-year-old Brown served as speaker of the House from 1980 to 1995 and as mayor of San Francisco from 1996 to 2004.
The Spingarn Medal is awarded annually for the highest achievement of an American of African descent.
Clinton reminded the group he spoke to them in 2001 in Los Angeles about what he called “common humanity.”
“We should remember this today when voting rights, when family security and the best interest of children, when the bonds of neighbors and the friendships of our oldest allies are being strained, all because we have begun again to think our differences mean more than our common humanity,” he said.
Not all of the speech was focused on politics The former president joked with Mayor Ron Nirenberg about doing his part to keep San Antonio prosperous.
“Mr. Mayor, I have duly supported your economy,” he said. “I ate at Mi Tierra tonight, earlier. Took a whole group of people there. Forty-six years ago when I was much younger and could have such an appetite, I actually ate three meals at that place in 18 hours.”
Brown, raised in Mineola, received his medal from Clinton and in his acceptance speech, urging NAACP members to work to remove President Trump from office.
“On the night when you have given me this award, I must tell of you that I would rather have all of us walking out of here dedicated to the idea that removal from office is the only thing that would represent a show of belief of what we are supposed to be about,” he said.
Brown also called on the NAACP to campaign against Trump’s supreme court picks, which he said would have the nation talking about race into the 23rd century.
Past recipients of the medal include movie actor Sidney Poitier and television talk show host and producer Oprah WInfrey.
During his speech earlier in the evening, Derrick Johnson, the president and CEO of the NAACP, urged voters to turnout in the mid-term congressional elections.
“Take the pledge to vote, take the pledge to encourage your neighbor to vote, take the pledge to make democracy work for this country because if we don’t, who else will,” Johnson said.
Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at tpr.org