Mike Pence celebrated Black History Month yesterday by honoring Abraham Lincoln, a white man, but failing to mention a single accomplishment by an African-American.
Pence’s Black History Month tweet drew flak from Twitter netizens, who called the Vice-President out for the omission and for choosing to highlight the accomplishments of a white person instead of honoring black people, as previously reported by the Huffington Post.
— Vice President Pence (@VP) February 2, 2017
— James Davis (@babylon151) February 3, 2017
Celebrities such as Ava DuVernay and William J. Simmons slammed Pence on Twitter, with DuVernay pointing out that Pence could have mentioned “actual black people” who “did stuff,” besides Ben Carson and Omarosa — who don’t count because they both work under Trump.
Maybe remember when ACTUAL BLACK PEOPLE did stuff? Besides Ben Carson + Omarosa of course. And um, about the 13th amendment… oh nevermind. https://t.co/dIPV6YAeS4
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) February 2, 2017
William Simmons pointed out that Pence’s tweet is typical of the “racist imagination” to put a white man on a pedestal as someone who “freed the slaves.”
— William J. Simmons (@WJ_Simmons) February 2, 2017
"As Black History Month begins, let's somehow find a way to make this about white people I think blacks should be thankful for." -Mike Pence
— Joel J. Gibbs (@JoelJGibbs) February 2, 2017
Many of the angry tweets directed at Pence pointed out that Lincoln wasn’t the only person responsible for ending slavery in the United States, reminding him of the many black people who contributed to ending segregation as part of the abolitionist movement.
Pence drew so much criticism for his Black History Month tweet that it gave birth to the hashtag #PenceBlackHistory.
Pence doesn’t exactly have a sterling record in terms of championing the rights of minority groups. In fact, he’s been a notorious opponent of the LGBT community. To say that he is against marriage equality is an understatement. When he was in Congress, Mike Pence said that being gay is a choice and that sexual relations between gay couples always lead to “societal collapse,” the Business Insider reports.
Pence is also a proponent of the so-called “conversion therapy,” a form of treatment that aims to change the sexual preferences of gay and lesbian individuals. The American Psychological Association called out the practice, saying that it has no basis in medical fact. Many states have already banned the practice.
Mike Pence isn’t the only politician who had a tone-deaf response to Black History Month. On Wednesday morning, Donald Trump gave a speech to kick off Black History Month but appeared to be more interested in talking about the election results and “fake news.” Furthermore, Trump claimed during his speech that his popularity with African-American voters helped him win the Presidency.
— President Trump (@POTUS) February 1, 2017
Many times in the speech, Trump often moved to other topics just when everyone thought he was to speak in length about the black community. According to the transcript released by Toronto Star Washington correspondent Daniel Dale, Trump began his speech by talking about the election.
“Well the election, it came out really well,” he said. “Next time we’ll triple the number or quadruple it. We want to get over 51 right. At least 51.”
One time, Trump mentioned the famous abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass, hailing him as “somebody who’s done an amazing job who’s being recognized more and more.” This struck many as odd because the US president’s words suggest that he doesn’t even know Douglass was, not to mention that he seems oblivious of the fact that the black revolutionist had died more than a hundred years ago.
Many Twitter users expressed their disgust over the way Trump handled his Black History Month speech.
Trump used a Black History Month speech to talk about himself, how he did with black voters, and CNN: https://t.co/2kYXZR4Ttf
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) February 1, 2017
All Trump was missing from his Black History Month speech was congratulating Iggy Azalea on her success.
— Jensen Karp (@JensenClan88) February 1, 2017
Trump: I'm writing my Black History Month speech.
Bannon: Be sure not to mention African-Americans.
— Just Bill ???? (@WilliamAder) February 1, 2017
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]