Hillary Clinton continues to make case to black voters during luncheon with Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves as she arrives to speak at an Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority luncheon in West Columbia, S.C., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

COLUMBIA — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton courted members of the nation’s first black sorority Wednesday by highlighting a number of issues where there is disparity between white people and people of color.

“Something is wrong when black women are more than three times more likely to die in this country in this century from complications due to childbirth,” Clinton said told members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. “Imagine if a white baby here in South Carolina were twice as likely to die as an African-American baby. Imagine the outcry and the resources that would flood in.”

Clinton also said it was important to make replacing Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died earlier this month, a campaign issue this year. She pointed to the high court’s ruling in 2013 that loosened aspects of the Voting Rights Act.

“We need to demonstrate unequivocally that we will not let voting rights be undermined and suppressed,” she said. “Who would have guessed we would still have to be protecting voting rights?”

More than 400 AKA members — ranging in age from recent college graduates to women using canes and walkers — gathered at Brookland Baptist Church banquet hall to hear Clinton to make her case for their votes.

Margaret Rucker of Anderson, an AKA who said she already voted absentee for Clinton, said fighting for equality was an important issue that has to be continually addressed.

“She spoke about the need for equal rights for all people,” she said. “I like all of the ideas she’s standing for and all the work she’s done and that I believe she will do. The question really is why shouldn’t she be president?”

Marguerite S. Middleton, an AKA who lives in Summerville, said she understands why Clinton’s opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, is popular with younger women.

“Bernie has a lot of positives, too,” she said. “But I know more about (Clinton’s) work and her husband’s work. I have not heard as much about Bernie until recently.”

Clinton’s campaign director for South Carolina said her message is voting with the majority black voting bloc that makes up the state’s Democratic Party.

“Hillary Clinton has a record of fighting for African Americans and long ties back to South Carolina, but we’re not taking that support for granted,” said director Clay Middleton.

Clinton also was scheduled to appear at town hall at Morris College on Wednesday evening, a historically black institution in Sumter.

Reach Maya T. Prabhu at 843-509-8933.