President Donald Trump is honoring his first Black History Month as president. However, as seen in the video (below), during a listening session with African-American leaders on Feb. 1 at the White House, Trump delivered an address that quickly stirred controversy.
According to the Toronto Star, Trump began with a sentence about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., stating that King's “incredible example is unique in American history.” But Trump's comments on African-American history ended there.
“You read all about Dr. Martin Luther King a week ago when somebody said I took the statue out of my office," the president continued.
Trump said the controversy over the King statue was fake.
"And it turned out that that was fake news. … The statue is cherished. ... We have Lincoln, and we have Jefferson, and we have Dr. Martin Luther King. And we have [others]. But they said the statue, the bust, of Dr. Martin Luther King was taken out of the office. And it was never even touched. So I think it was a disgrace, but that’s the way the press is. It’s very unfortunate.”
The president then concluded his address to those gathered for the listening session by referencing his own political relationship 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, I won’t go into details, but we ended up getting substantially more than other candidates who had run in the past years. And now we’re going to take that to new levels. I want to thank my television star over here -- Omarosa [Manigault]’s actually a very nice person. Nobody knows that. I don’t want to destroy her reputation. She is a very good person and she’s been helpful right from the beginning with the campaign and I appreciate it, I really do. Very special. So I want to thank everybody for being here.
Trump's controversial comments on the first day of Black History Month come less than a week after his address on Holocaust Remembrance Day failed to include a single reference to Jews or anti-Semitism.
“The final solution was about the slaughter of Jews,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, former Democratic vice presidential nominee, reports The Guardian. “We have to remember this. This is what Holocaust denial is. It’s either to deny that it happened, or many Holocaust deniers acknowledge, ‘Oh, yeah, people were killed. But it was a lot of innocent people. Jews weren’t targeted.’"
But Reince Priebus, Trump's chief of staff, disputes claims that Trump's speech was akin to Holocaust denial.
“I don’t regret the words,” he said. “I mean, everyone’s suffering in the Holocaust, including, obviously, all of the Jewish people.”