Politics

Did Trump Win A Medal From The NAACP?

| by Lauren Briggs

Donald Trump's longtime attorney said that the GOP presidential nominee received an NAACP award with Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali in 1989. But that is not exactly true.

Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, posted the following photo to Twitter on Oct. 18, saying that Trump received the NAACP award for "helping America's inner cities" and is "a man for ALL people!"

But the NAACP told The Huffington Post that they have never awarded any medals to Trump for such a cause, and Trump's biographers confirmed that no other civil rights groups have, either.

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In reality, Trump, who was embroiled in a housing discrimination lawsuit at the time, received the medal along with 79 others, most of whom were white, after a well-connected businessman, William Fugazi, who was Trump's real estate broker at the time, protested against 12 immigrants receiving "medals of liberty" from President Ronald Reagan for the Statue of Liberty's 100th anniversary.

Fugazi, along with the Coalition of Italo-American Associations, a group led by him, campaigned against the awards on the grounds that they were not honoring native-born citizens and that they explicitly excluded ethnicities like Irish, Italian and Polish.

"We think it's an insult to ― on the one hand ― ask for donations to restore the foremost international symbol of freedom for immigrants and ― on the other hand ― to exclude most of them from the Medal of Liberty list," the coalition's executive director, Joseph Martorana, told the Miami Herald at the time, notes the Post. Martorana said that those ethnic groups left out "account for 76 percent of the nation's population."

Many others backed up Fugazi, including Democratic Mayor Ed Koch of New York, who called the selections "idiotic," and New York City Council majority leader Peter Vallone, who told the Miami Herald that the awards were like "denying some of the building blocks of the nation."

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"It's an historical betrayal," Vallone added.

Fugazi then created a new organization, the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, or NECO, and awarded Trump, Ali, Parks and 77 others -- two of whom were black -- with the new Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which awards those who "uphold the ideals and spirit of America" while "maintaining the traditions of their ethnic heritage."

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Frank Sinatra, Lee Iacocca, Quincy Jones, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, Louis Zamperini and six U.S. presidents have also received the award, notes NECO's official website.

Sources: The Huffington Post, Michael Cohen/Twitter, NECO / Photo credit: Michael Cohen/Twitter

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