Bill Clinton at Cleveland’s Ginn Academy: “Write your own life story”

Bill Clinton taking the stage at Ginn Academy in Cleveland to stump for Hillary

Former President Bill Clinton taking the stage as he stumps for his wife, Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, at Ginn Academy in Cleveland

Former President Bill Clinton stumped for his wife, Democratic Party presidential nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s elite Ginn Academy last Tuesday, National Voter Registration Day, to encourage students and the community to “write your own life story” by registering to vote and then voting in the November 8 general election. Ginn Academy is the only all-male public school in Ohio. Its 250 students in grades 9-12 experience a curriculum focused on higher education and careers after graduation. Founded in 2007, the school offers advanced placement classes in all major subjects and students can have dual enrollment in Cuyahoga Community College and Cleveland State University.

The Ginn Academy creed reads:

Our mission is to become exemplary students who will reach our full potential and beyond.
We will recognize our genius and realize our self-worth.
We will stay patient and poised to seize every opportunity for success.
We are guided by scholarship, leadership and service to all mankind.
The Ginn Academy will cultivate us to become global leaders of the century.

Clinton gave a speech to the capacity crowd tailor-made for Ginn students and imbued with the words from his touching eulogy for dear friend and former heavyweight champion, Muhammad Ali, who died June 3 from Parkinson’s disease. He noted that Ali lived two great lives. The first was as one of the greatest boxers of all time, if not the greatest, as he often proclaimed. The second was as a man dealing with an enormous struggle that trapped his mind in the body that gave him his first life. Ali felt the adversity of Parkinson’s for 35 years but never gave up his own agency. Ali, according to Clinton, decided when he was a little boy living in a pink house in a poor neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky that he would write his own story. He decided who he was, what he stood for and accepted the consequences of acting on his beliefs. He decided he would never allow anyone–or anything–to disempower him, including Parkinson’s.

“There’s a lot of road rage in America today. Otherwise, this wouldn’t be a close race. There are a lot of young people who are part of the Black Lives Matter movement who are sick and tired of seeing the sun go down and being afraid to walk outside the door. There are a lot of working class people without a college degree who think they’ll never make the same income again they were making a few years ago and think they can’t give their kids a better future,” the former president acknowledged. “They look in the mirror and think ‘All my tomorrows are going to be like yesterday and I’m not in control of my future.’”

He said the country needs an economy where everyone can write their own life story. That economy is one with more jobs with higher incomes; more upward mobility and less inequality, and; fairness. He explained that his wife believes manufacturing jobs can be brought back through the rebuilding of infrastructure and used Flint, Michigan’s troubled water system as an example of the type of infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt.

The water system in Flint, Michigan became heavily contaminated with lead after a state official sent to run the financially-troubled city switched from using water from Detroit Water and Sewerage which got its water from Lake Huron to water from the Flint River. The result was disastrous. Flint water was found to be 19 times more corrosive than Detroit’s water. The corrosive effect lingered even after the city switched back to water from Detroit because the pipes had been devastatingly degraded and leached lead into homes. Pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha, head of the residency program at Hurley Hospital in Flint, discovered that lead levels were two to three times higher in one- and two-year-old children routinely screened for lead at the hospital after the water source was changed to Flint River than it had been before. Lead is a powerful neurotoxin for which no safe levels are known. It effects cognition, behavior and can lower IQ in children. Most of the city’s water infrastructure must be replaced. High lead levels have been found in water systems in all 50 states.

Critical infrastructure repair can bring in hundreds of thousands of new jobs, according to Clinton. He sited a project by the Clinton Foundation that brought public employee unions together to raise $16 million for America’s largest private infrastructure fund. It used all American, union labor and provided over 100,000 jobs.

“That’s the kind of thing a president can do if we work together,” Clinton said in reference to Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogan “Stronger Together.”

Clinton reminded the audience that 900,000 jobs had returned under President Obama’s administration since the Great Recession. The key, he said, was to create “tomorrow’s manufacturing jobs; not yesterday’s” and used clean energy manufacturing jobs in wind and solar energy as examples.

He stated that the average age of a country’s citizens has a lot to do with its economic future. The U.S. has the youngest, most diverse, workforce of any industrialized country and the largest network of education and training, including skills training programs that need to be supported and dignified. We are first or second in the world in ability to harness energy from the sun and the wind making us able to produce products at lower energy and transportation costs. Those lower costs will enable the country to bring jobs back, reasoned Clinton.

Trade is an important piece of Hillary Clinton’s prescription for a better economy.

President Clinton pointed out that Republican Party presidential nominee Donald J. Trump often brings up the loss of jobs in Indiana due to Carrier and its parent company, Connecticut-based United Technologies, moving 2,100 jobs to Mexico citing more expensive labor and restrictive federal regulations in the U.S. However, Clinton says that Trump doesn’t tell the entire story.

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