When President Donald Trump challenged Black History Month on February 1, 2017, he came under fire from all corners of the media for his comments. His statement reportedly had less to do with paying tribute to black abolitionist Frederick Douglass or civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and more to do with Donald Trump.
Even before he was president, Donald Trump has challenged any kind of history that is unfavorable to him personally and to his motives. His comments on the first day of Black History Month had a greater impact due to who was making them and because they represented the collective view of how the Trump White House honored black history.
A transcript of President Trump’s statements, provided by Deadspin, confirms the view that President Donald Trump spent more time targeting the press for their coverage of him, specifically, going after network news brand names such as CNN, while praising Fox News for being “fair.”
Many people saw his statement as more of an effort to promote Fox News’ less-than-critical view of him and his agenda, as Donald has continued to attack the media into his third week as president.
Video cameras also recorded his statements during a White House breakfast “listening session” where he had surrounded himself with black leaders and supporters such as Ben Carson, whom he picked to lead HUD, and Omarosa Manigault, who was on Celebrity Apprentice when the president was doing the show in 2004 and 2013.
Trump’s less-than-informed comments about black abolitionist Frederick Douglass went viral that week, where he was mocked in the media for speaking in present tense about him, saying that Douglass “had done a great job” and that he had “noticed” that Douglass was being recognized more.
Many representatives lashed out at President Donald Trump for the comments, including Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) on Twitter for what she said was the president paying “lip service” to the black community.
In a series of tweets, she started by asking Trump how he was “honoring” Black History Month, followed by asking why he wasn’t working with the Congressional Black Caucus and demanding that he apologize to civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia).
In January, before Donald Trump would be inaugurated, Lewis was one of the Democratic senators who refused to attend the inauguration, saying that he believed Trump’s presidency was illegitimate.
As Politico reported, Trump fired back via Twitter saying that Lewis’ district was crime ridden and falling apart. Many of the responses to the president’s tweet secured the fact that Lewis’ district was not in the condition he said it was, saying that there was wealth and security in the district.
What cannot be ignored about the comments by President Trump is the history he has for attacking areas with African-American majority as crime infested that are falling apart and have “terrible” schools.
But the lack of attention President Trump exhibited for Black History Month does not surprise anyone who already considered Trump, his supporters, and those in his administration as racist. It is more of a reflection of a candidate, whose supporters have ties to white supremacist organizations, that started his political movement with the birther conspiracy.
One only has to look at the movement enabled by the white nationalist online news site Breitbart from which Steve Bannon, a major Trump influencer, come.
Barbara Lee had also targeted Steve Bannon in her series of tweets to Trump, in light of his passionless tribute to black history.
It was also during this time that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) was going through a hearings process by congressional committees, where members of the black caucus were involved in questioning Sessions over racists comments he’s made in the past.
It’s also been reported that just before the coverage of his statement for Black History Month, the press also questioned why the administration did not recognize Jewish victims for International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Press Secretary Sean Spicer was one of the White House staffers under Trump who denied that they misspoke and retorted that their statement was made to be more inclusive.
With many of these controversies, it reveals and further confirms a pattern from President Donald Trump about history, black history, and Jewish history as he sees it, and his attempts to redefine, rewrite, take control, and normalize a perception of minorities that is less than favorable for the nation, overall.
[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]