Martin Luther King III, the oldest child of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., has today met with incoming POTUS Donald Trump in New York City. The last minute meeting at Trump Tower is thought to be an effort by Trump to reach out to the African American community and other minorities he has repeatedly alienated with his words and policies throughout the campaign trail.
King addressed the waiting media in the lobby of Trump Tower after speaking with Trump, saying the meeting had been productive and that the country has “got to move forward.”
“He said that he is going to represent Americans — he’s said that over and over again. We will continue to evaluate that.”
Trump, meanwhile, stopped to pose for photos with King while ignoring questions from waiting reporters regarding his feud with congressman John Lewis. Lewis found himself facing Trump’s wrath when he publicly questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s candidacy while suggesting that Russia had played a role in the outcome of the election.
In typical fashion, Trump took to Twitter with his reply. This came in the form of a series of tweets questioning Lewis’ abilities as a congressman and calling out his district in Northern Georgia for being “crime infested”, in “horrible shape” and “falling apart.”
Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017
mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017
Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S. I can use all the help I can get!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2017
Lewis appeared at a breakfast in Miami today celebrating Martin Luther King day where he spoke in what is thought to be a reply to Trump’s Twitter attack.
“You must never, ever hate. Stand up, speak up, when you see something that is not right and not fair and not just, you have a moral obligation to do something and say something.”
Speaking to the Guardian, Doris Crenshaw, a civil rights veteran who campaigned with Rosa Parks said she supported King’s meeting with Trump but also supported the 26 members of congress who plan to boycott Friday’s inauguration.
“Those members of Congress feel that not attending the inauguration is making a statement that they are against the politics put forth by Donald Trump.”
She called on Trump and John Lewis to “have a conversation.”
“I think it’s good that he meets Trump. You cannot operate with a ‘no talk’ policy: someone has to get in there and talk to Donald Trump and I think King should be congratulated for his efforts. It’s important to address poverty and education problems that we have nationwide.”
It has been reported that one of the major motivations behind King meeting with Trump was the discussion of maintaining voter participation. A 2013 Supreme Court decision to remove several key elements of the 1965 Voting Rights Act – a significant part of the civil rights movement spearheaded by Martin Luther King Jr. – was seen to put the voting rights of minority groups in jeopardy.
At the time the decision was labeled “deeply disappointing” by President Obama. The rules that were abolished essentially required several southern states with a history of racial discrimination to seek permission from federal authorities before making any changes to their electoral policy. The Supreme Court ruled that, although there was continued racial discrimination, particularly in the south, the issue was no longer so significant as to justify the “extraordinary measures” required by the law.
In addition to Lewis, other members of congress thought to be boycotting next Friday’s inauguration include Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, Nydia Velazquez of New York and Pramila Jayapal of Washington. Many members of congress have instead pledged their support to Saturday’s Women’s March On Washington Demonstration.
While today’s meeting can be seen as a step in the right direction for voter’s rights, it remains to be seen whether the gesture will improve Trump’s relations with the African American community.
[Featured Image by Andrew Harnick/AP Images]