Lead­ers say pres­i­dency at odds with MLK legacy

Trump de­nies per­sonal racism

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Front Page - By Errin Haines Whack

AT­LANTA » The first Martin Luther King Jr. hol­i­day of Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­dency is tak­ing place amid a racial firestorm of Trump’s own mak­ing.

In the same week that he hon­ored King by mak­ing a na­tional park out of the ground where King was born and preached un­til his death, Trump den­i­grated prac­ti­cally the en­tire African di­as­pora, and left many Amer­i­cans headed into the civil rights icon’s birth­day con­vinced that the leader of their coun­try is a racist.

For African-Amer­i­cans in par­tic­u­lar, this lat­est in­sult from Trump felt like whiplash. Barely a year ago, Amer­ica’s first black pres­i­dent, Barack Obama, marked his fi­nal King Day in of­fice with his usual com­mu­nity ser­vice; now, his suc­ces­sor is pre­sid­ing over a racial back­lash the coun­try has hardly seen in more than a gen­er­a­tion.

Trump has de­nied be­ing racist, la­bel­ing him­self the “least racist per­son there is” dur­ing his 2016 cam­paign. Some of his ac­tions lead­ing up to this year’s fed­eral hol­i­day hon­or­ing King’s birth seemed to be an at­tempt to live up to that.

He be­gan last week by des­ig­nat­ing the his­toric site around King’s At­lanta birth home as a na­tional park. By week’s end, Trump was sign­ing a King hol­i­day procla­ma­tion with the mar­tyred ac­tivist’s nephew at his side.

But in be­tween, the pres­i­dent sat in a White House meet­ing on im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy and den­i­grated much of the African di­as­pora as “shit­hole coun­tries” while ex­press­ing a pref­er­ence for im­mi­grants from Nor­way, a ma­jor­ity white na­tion.

This is the type of thing, ac­tivists, re­li­gious lead­ers and schol­ars say, that puts Trump’s pres­i­dency in di­rect con­flict with the legacy of King, who was as­sas­si­nated April 4, 1968 while try­ing to make Amer­ica a more in­clu­sive so­ci­ety.

King’s daugh­ter, the Rev. Ber­nice King, will be the key­note speaker at the com­mem­o­ra­tive ser­vice hon­or­ing her fa­ther at Ebenezer Bap­tist Church in At­lanta. As is the cus­tom for most pres­i­dents, Trump is not ex­pected to par­tic­i­pate, but she does hope he will ob­serve the hol­i­day.

“This is what I would like Pres­i­dent Trump to do: Don’t let the King Hol­i­day find you us­ing your Twit­ter ac­count in an in­ap­pro­pri­ate way,” Ber­nice King told The As­so­ci­ated Press in an in­ter­view. “If he can dare to do that, I would be proud on that day that our pres­i­dent hon­ored Dr. King by not do­ing things that are of­fen­sive.”

Much of Trump’s first year as pres­i­dent has been marked by racial con­tro­versy. Last Fe­bru­ary, Trump kicked off Black His­tory Month by prais­ing long-dead abo­li­tion­ist Fred­er­ick Dou­glass in the present tense, as if Dou­glass were still alive. He re­ferred to NFL play­ers protest­ing sys­temic racism as “sons of bitches” and sug­gested they should be benched or fired for their re­fusal to stand dur­ing the na­tional an­them.

Dur­ing a speech to African lead­ers last fall, he re­ferred to the non-ex­is­tent coun­try of “Nam­bia” when at­tempt­ing to dis­cuss Namibia. In June, he said Nige­rian im­mi­grants would “never go back to their huts” af­ter com­ing to the U.S.

King’s son, Martin Luther King III, met with Trump on the last King hol­i­day, four days be­fore Trump took of­fice. He spoke about vot­ing rights.


Don­ald Trump shakes hands with Martin Luther King III, son of Martin Luther King Jr. at Trump Tower in New York. King III, met with Trump on the last King hol­i­day, four days be­fore Trump took of­fice. He spoke to the then-pres­i­dent-elect about the im­por­tance of vot­ing rights — only to

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.