President Trump visited the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on Tuesday, possibly as outreach to a community that overwhelmingly did not support him in the 2016 election, and amid consistent allegations of racial insensitivity — at best — in his rhetoric since his campaign began.
Accompanied by White House communications official Omarosa Manigault and his choice for Housing and Urban Development chief, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Trump toured a gallery at the museum that recounts the history of slavery; an exhibit that juxtaposes Thomas Jefferson and the slaves he owned; and also another exhibit featuring Carson.
“Today and every day of my presidency I pledge to do everything I can to continue that promise of freedom for African-Americans and for every American,” Trump said in remarks afterward. He called the tour “a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry and hatred and intolerance.”
The president also took the opportunity to denounce bomb threats in Jewish-American community centers around the country. Federal officials have been investigating bomb threats targeted towards at least 10 centers in several states. “Anti-Semitism is horrible, and it’s gonna stop and it has to stop,” Trump told NBC News.
Trump was also joined on his tour by South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Alveda King, niece of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and his daughter Ivanka. Lonnie Bunch, the NMAAHC’s founding director led the tour.
First Lady Melania Trump visited the museum last week, accompanied by Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Trump has been followed with allegations of racial aggressions large and small at least since his presidential campaign began. Most recently he was criticized for a press conference in which he spoke patronizingly to White House correspondent April Ryan, asking her to set up a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus.