Hillary Clinton tied her presidential campaign to the historic arc of a nation living up to its ideals Sunday as she urged parishioners of a black church in Philadelphia's West Oak Lane neighborhood to choose "hope over fear" and vote to send her to the White House.
"This election is about doing everything we can do to stop the movement to destroy President Obama's legacy," Clinton said, her voice hoarse as she addressed the midday service from the pulpit of Mount Airy Church of God in Christ, a little shy of two days before the polls open. "It's about choosing unity over division, love over hate."
The congregation of several hundred greeted Clinton with cheers and shouts of "hallelujah" and "amen" as she spoke of Jesus' great commandment to love one another.
She said that Tuesday's election is "the test of our times" as surely as others faced tests to stand up for freedom at Seneca Falls, site of the founding of the women's suffrage movement; in Selma, Ala., for black voting rights; in the fields of California for farmworkers' rights; and at the Stonewall Inn in 1969, the protest that launched the modern movement for gay rights.
It's no secret that Clinton needs a huge turnout of African American voters in Philadelphia to counter Republican Donald Trump's strength among white blue-collar workers in the rural areas of the state and hollowed-out industrial towns of southwest Pennsylvania. Polls have tightened in the last week in the state and elsewhere, and Democrats are working overtime to get Clinton the numbers she needs here.
Pennsylvania is designed to be at the center of Clinton's electoral-college fire wall, where her strategists believe the Trump conflagration can be stopped in a state that has backed Democrats for president since 1988.
U.S. Sen. Cory A. Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, introduced Clinton, speaking of Republican efforts he said were intended to make it harder for people of color to vote, including the Trump campaign's threats to monitor polls in urban areas against fraud, and legislation limiting early voting. "There are forces uniting to suppress the vote," he warned. "You've seen this before. This isn't no original picture. This is a rerun." Stand up to it, Booker said, quoting the late poet Maya Angelou.
"Maya Angelou was a friend of mine and I really miss her in this election," Clinton said as she took the pulpit. "She would have had a lot of choice things to say. She famously said, 'When someone shows you who he is, believe him the first time.' " It was her only reference, however oblique, to her opponent, whom Clinton has criticized as unfit for office for mocking women, minorities and the disabled.
Later, Clinton visited the Cedar Park Cafe in West Philadelphia, moving from table to table among the afternoon brunch crowd eating waffles, pancakes, omelets, whiting and chicken. She posed for photo after photo. "Thanks for your help," she said to one group. "We're going to do this on Tuesday."