Breaking Through Barriers: An Afternoon with Hillary Clinton


At 1:30pm, the line for the Hillary Clinton rally already stretched alongside the length of Hillside High School in Durham. The 79°F heat and the middle-of-the-weekday timing wasn’t stopping anyone—they were there for Hillary.

The 3:50pm “Get Out the Vote” rally had been publicized just a day before, but nonetheless people were there to support the Democratic presidential candidate.

The crowd was an eclectic mix of young and old, men and women, Durham citizens and Duke students, and people from all walks of life. The line was spattered with “Ready for Hillary” and “Hillary 2016” t-shirts and nearly every person wore a Hillary logo sticker proudly.

As rally-goers stood in line, Democratic candidates for other offices came by giving impromptu speeches, handing out brochures, and making their names and faces known to the voters. Special interest groups held signs and passed out reading materials, leveraging this gathering to make their beliefs known.

It was apparent that the majority of people were already avid Hillary supporters who had come to endorse their candidate. The purpose of the event wasn’t to sway voters, but rather it was to ensure supporters would go out and vote, and more importantly to encourage them to get their acquaintances to do the same.

When asked why they were attending the event, supporters explained they wanted to hear the woman they were voting for speak in person. Some even proclaimed, with smiles stretched across their face, that they wanted to be in the presence of the next President of the United States.

At 2:30pm, the final school bell rang and students came flooding out of Hillside. Unfazed by the swarm of outsiders that were invading their space, they walked towards the school buses, waved goodbye to their friends, put on their headphones, and moved on with their day.

Following the departure of students, they finally began letting people into the school for the event. Volunteers carefully recorded the information of all rally-goers, as Secret Service, TSA, and the police filed everyone through metal detectors and examined bags.

By the time general attendees were through security and inside the gym, the bleachers were filled with the Hillside marching band, the choir, students, teachers, news crews, and campaign volunteers. Rally-goers excitedly made their way as close to the stage as possible and stood eagerly awaiting the guest of honor.

Alongside the stage in one corner of the gym hung the American Flag, in the other the North Carolina Flag, and proudly hung in between was Hillary’s “Fighting for us” banner. Excited voices filled the air and pop music played over the gym speakers to keep the crowd enthusiastic.

While waiting for the main event to begin, the crowd enjoyed performances by the Hillside Dance Team, Hillside Spoken Word, Hillside Marching Band, and Hillside Choir. The students were proud to show visitors their school and talents; you could feel the Hillside Hornet pride and excitement in the air.

By 4:50pm, an hour after the event was supposed to begin, people were getting antsy. In true Duke fashion, Duke students had pulled up the ACC basketball game against Notre Dame on their phones, and in unison the crowd would yell with elation or disappointment. In order to revamp the crowd after a Duke Basketball loss, Hillside students led the wave and a series of cheers for Hillary—everyone was ready to go.

A few minutes later the Mayor of Durham Bill Bell came on stage to welcome the crowd to Durham and to Hillside High School. Without hesitation, Mayor Bell exclaimed that Hillary Clinton is the best candidate for families in North Carolina. He explained that the United States is not a country that faces one issue, but rather many, and that Hillary understands this and is prepared to tackle all of the challenges at hand.

The Mayor continued to state that other candidates are not prepared to break down barriers, as Hillary is ready to do. He went as far as to mention Donald Trump by name, at which point the crowd screamed out boos. He finished with a firm statement urging everyone to get out and vote for Hillary, because she is undoubtedly to best candidate to address the needs of the citizens of Durham.

Next to speak was North Carolina House of Representatives Democratic Leader Larry Hall, who opened with an enthusiastic cheer for the Hillside Hornets. He proclaimed Hillary will break down the barriers that create achievement gaps in early education. He explained that the stakes are simply too high to sit on the sidelines—everyone needs to show up and vote on Election Day.

Representative Hall led the crowd in a cheer that everyone would “Show Up!” and “Show Out!” on Election Day. He stated that Hillary stands with all of the people of Durham, not just the privileged few—the crowd burst into cheers. He recounted Hillary’s many accomplishments over the past 40 years that have prepared her for a successful presidency.

He closed with a proclamation of the groups that Hillary stands for: educators, students, women, children, families, and more. The Hillside Choir sang the Star Spangled Banner, and with that everyone was ready for Hillary.

The crowd erupted into screams and cheers when Hillary entered the room. A big smile across her face, she waved to her audience. When the crowd finally settled down, Hillary opened with a declaration that she will make it her mission to give every young person the opportunity to reach their full potential and get ahead.

She echoed the words of Mayor Bell and Representative Hall, stating that she wants to break down the institutional barriers that are preventing students from finding success. She explained she will fight for access to high quality public education for all, and ensure public schools get the funding they need.

Hillary reminded the audience of her impressive resume and lengthy work she had done in Arkansas to improve public education. She proclaimed that every child deserves to go to a good school because access to public education is the foundation of this democracy. It became clear that the primary message of her speech would be be public education. She said that public schools need more TLC: Teachers, Learning, and Community.

She stated the need to recruit the best teachers, and in order to do so she intends to raise salaries for hard-working teachers. She explained the need to advance learning to the modern age by teaching all students computer science. Lastly, she urged schools and towns to step up and make a community around education so that no child is left behind.

In the last few minutes of her speech, she went on to list the issues that would be most important to her during her presidency should she be elected. She vowed to go after gun lobbies and prevent future gun violence in America. She committed to creating more jobs for hard-working Americans and to encourage research and development. She pledged to uphold Obamacare and ensure that every American has access to affordable healthcare.

She vowed to make America a more equitable place by raising pay for women and assisting in stopping systemic racism. She closed with a plea to the audience, urging them to get out to vote on Tuesday. She promised that a vote for Hillary would be a vote to break down barriers the American people face.

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