Referencing American Idol, cell phone cameras and i-Pods, United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton asked the young population to take an active part in American democracy.
Clinton addressed thousands of Philadelphia’s students from high schools, colleges and young professional organizations at the National Constitution Center on Feb. 4th. She was the keynote speaker for the American Democracy Institute’s Youth Leadership Eastern Summit.
The American Democracy Institute is a non-partisan educational and research center based in Washington, D.C. The aim of the non-profit think tank is to improve American democracy through increased citizen participation and by identifying, developing and supporting the next generation of progressive leaders.
The institute organizes regional summits across the nation to encourage and expand the number of young people engaged in dialogue about the meaning of democracy.
Clinton, who serves as an honorary chair of ADI’s youth initiative program, said that the ignorant, cynical and disinterested traits young people are accused of having is a myth. She said that today’s youth are the “greatest volunteering generation ever” by actively campaigning against HIV and homelessness.
During her speech, Clinton asked members of the audience who were public servants, members of community related organizations or who had voted in the last election to stand up.
“This is the proof,” she said, pointing towards the many individuals standing in their seats. “That anyone who says that this generation doesn’t care, doesn’t know what’s going on with young people in America today.”
Clinton praised MTV News for providing better coverage about the genocide in Darfur, Sudan than some of the major news networks. While commending the participation of young people in carrying out their civic duties, Clinton also pointed out that they were now voting at the highest levels since 1972.
“This is a direct challenge to the common wisdom that the youth vote never came out, when in fact it came out stronger than ever before,” she said.
The crowd erupted in applause when the Senator admonished the government for its apathy towards the threat of global warming and what she said was an ineffective electoral system.
Clinton spoke on issues regarding poverty among children, unemployment and rising tuition costs.
She said that there is “a lot of unfinished business in America.”
“We need your voices, we need your blogging, we need your activism, we need your help in any way you can,” she said.
In closing, Clinton urged young Americans to fight for positive change.
“Bring your hopes, bring your dreams, bring your i-Pods and your cell phone cameras, and change the world in your way,” she said.
A number of people were quite taken by Clinton’s address and felt motivated to work even harder to bring about change in America.
“I was very impressed,” said Andrea Freeman, a senior at Temple University. “Her speech was really moving and she really worked the crowd. I felt she was genuine and was successful in stimulating the audience to help bring about some sort of change.”
Some audience members felt that the most powerful speech was delivered by the Gene Nichol, president of the College of William and Mary, who gave an impassioned speech about the various problems plaguing American society.
“All that he said was so true,” said Sabah Kazmi, a junior at Temple University “We need this kind of talk to incite the youngsters to act.”
Amna Rizvi can be reached at email@example.com.