Tim Kaine shares the ‘powerful’ wisdom he learned from attending a predominantly black church

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Race has emerged as one of the primary issues of the 2016 election cycle. Over the course of the heated and long campaign both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been criticized for their relationship with race. Trump has been called a “bigot and a racist,” while during the Democratic primary Clinton was slapped with a similar label by former rival Bernie Sanders. However Senator Tim Kaine, Clinton’s running mate, views proximity as an essential step in dampening racial tensions.

During an interview with AOL.com News, Kaine recalled a “great line of Martin Luther King’s — ‘The most segregated hour of the week is 11 o’clock Sunday morning.'”

RICHMOND, VA – SEPTEMBER 30:
Tim Kaine, C, and his wife Anne Holton are long-time members of the predominantly African American St. Elizabeth Catholic Church on Sunday, September 30, 2012, in Richmond, VA. One member of the church, Maeola Strother of Richmond said that Kaine was a ‘mentor for my daughter when she was in middle school. Now, she’s 36. He always stays the same person. His titles never changed him.’ The former Virginia governor Kaine is in a heated run against another former Virginia governor, George Allen, for the US Senate seat being vacated by Senator Jim Webb. In addition to being a former Virginia governor, Kaine, a Democrat , is a former mayor of Richmond and a Virginia Lt. governor. Kaine’s wife, Holton, has been active in the campaign, making appearances around the state on her husband’s behalf.
(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

RICHMOND, VA – SEPTEMBER 30:
While leaving church and before hitting the road to campaign in northern Virginia, Tim Kaine, R, gives his wife, Anne Holton, a kiss outside St. Elizabeth Catholic Church on Sunday, September 30, 2012, in Richmond, VA. The former Virginia governor Kaine is in a heated run against another former Virginia governor, George Allen, for the US Senate seat being vacated by Senator Jim Webb. In addition to being a former Virginia governor, Kaine, a Democrat , is a former mayor of Richmond and a Virginia Lt. governor. Kaine’s wife, Holton, has been active in the campaign, making appearances around the state on her husband’s behalf.
(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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The particular MLK quote left such an imprint on the Virginia senator that upon returning to the states after working in Honduras during the 1980s, Kaine began attending St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Richmond, Va., a predominantly African-American church.

Kaine says the experience revealed a fundamental contrast between his life and that of millions of minority Americans. “I learned something really powerful. If you’re a minority, you have to understand the ways of the majority as a survival mechanism,” said Kaine. “If you’re in a majority, you don’t necessarily have to understand the ways of a minority. You don’t have to get out of your own comfort zone and look at your life from different perspectives.”

MCLEAN, VA – SEPTEMBER 20: Tim Kaine in encircled by media in the media room of the Capitol One Conference Center following his U.S. Senatorial debate against George Allen on Thursday, September 20, 2012, in McLean, VA. The former Virginia governor Kaine is in a heated run against Allen, another former Virginia governor, for the US Senate seat being vacated by Senator Jim Webb. In addition to being a former Virginia governor, Kaine, a Democrat , is a former mayor of Richmond and a Virginia Lt. governor. Kaine’s wife, Holton, has been active in the campaign, making appearances around the state on her husband’s behalf. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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The vice presidential nominee was married and his children were baptized at at St. Elizabeth’s over his 30 years in attendance. But Kaine says being placed in a situation where he is in a minority was an “important part of my life over a long period of time, and has really given me a different perspective.”

“If you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you can’t necessarily understand the way the world looks to somebody else and I often encourage friends of mine, ‘You know, put yourself in a situation, if you’re not in one, put yourself in a situation where you’re a minority.'”

See the full interview with Kaine:

Kaine encourages others to do the same in order to not only “learn some things about others but you’re also going to learn about yourself,” adding that “It doesn’t have to be a church, it can be a civic organization, it could be anything, but put yourself in a situation persistently and over time where you’re not the majority.”

BY: WILLIAM STEAKIN, reporting by MORGAN WHITAKER

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