President Donald J. Trump marked the beginning of Black History Month by gathering his African American advisers and supporters at the White House for a hearing.
Trump’s speech briefly focused on the life of Frederick Douglass, a statesman and national leader of the abolitionist movement. Shortly after praising Douglass’ actions, Trump criticized the press sources that he deems “fake” and biased. Black History Month’s beginnings were marked by the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln, prominent figures in the abolitionist movement.
Donald Trump’s take on African-American history
Trump reminded attendees of why Black History Month is celebrated, being a reminder of the “sacrifice, hard work, and faith” of black people in America. The President confessed having learned more about black culture during his campaign, as he visited places that he did not know personally and got in touch with the community.
He started off by talking about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., elevating him as an exemplary person for the country’s history. Quickly, Trump referred to the rumor that he had the Martin Luther King statue removed from his office, calling it “fake news,” and then comparing the statue to other “good ones,” such as Lincoln’s and Jefferson’s.
Trump turned his glance toward his supporters at the table, recognizing them for being supportive during, again, unfavorable media coverage, explicitly calling out CNN as “hostile.”
“But I don’t watch CNN, so I don’t get to see you as much as I used to. I don’t like watching fake news. But Fox has treated me very nice. Wherever Fox is, thank you,” stated the President of the United States.
Then he focused on jobs and education, calling out for better wages and upgrading the inner cities, putting such responsibility on Ben Carson, Housing and Urban Development Secretary nominee. Law enforcement was also a point, as Trump then promised that communities will be made “safer” and that it will be achieved with “law enforcement.”
The President referred to the group that was attending the hearing, calling them unique and thanking them for their help for improving his image with the African-American community.
“If you remember I wasn’t going to do well with the African-American community, and after they heard me speaking and talking about the inner city and lots of other things, we ended up getting—and I won’t go into details—but we ended up getting substantially more than other candidates who had run in the past years,” Trump noted.
Compared to previous Republican candidacies, Donald Trump got 8 percent of the black vote vote, compared to Mitt Romney’s 6 percent, but he fell short compared to Ronald Reagan who won 14 percent of the black vote back in 1980, according to the Washington Post.
The problem? Too little content for a president
Media outlets highlighted how Trump is distanced from African Americans and their history and culture, contrasting him against Barack Obama. In Obama’s speech, he addressed the courage and virtuosity of African-American figures at shaping the country to what exists today. Back in 2016, Obama called out the injustices suffered by African-Americans, even when they enjoy the same rights than white people.
“For too long, our most basic liberties had been denied to African Americans, and today, we pay tribute to countless good-hearted citizens. During National African American History Month, we recognize these champions of justice and the sacrifices they made to bring us to this point, we honor the contributions of African Americans since our country’s beginning, and we recommit to reaching for a day when no person is judged by anything but the content of their character,” stated former president Barack Obama.
He went over the events of the Revolutionary War, including revolutionary marches, and referring to slavery as the country’s original sin. Obama spoke to the attendees about how unemployment rate for African-Americans has been halved compared to its peak, and that over 2 million African-Americans were able to have insurance.
On the other hand, many complain that Trump just referred to the fact that Frederick Douglass is being recognized “more and more,” without even daring to pinpoint specific actions of his. Douglass wrote narratives against slavery and remained an active campaign leader for its abolition. He was also an advocate for women’s right to vote, and even became the first African American nominated for Vice President of the United States.
Source: SF Gate