President Trump, fresh off announcing his choice for a new U.S. Supreme Court justice, convened a meeting of conservative Black supporters on Wednesday at the White House for a Black History Month listening program, but there seemed to be little talk of history and a lot of talk about him.
He did make note of the contributions 19th century abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass, whom he called “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more,” but almost sounding as if Douglass has more work to do, despite having died in 1895.
The president also acknowledged the historical contributions of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks, but also found a way to once again deride CNN as “fake news,” and claimed that he did better in the 2016 election among African-Americans than previous candidates.
Trump captured 8 percent of the Black vote in November (Hillary Clinton won 88 percent), doing better than Mitt Romney’s 6 percent in 2012 and John McCain’s 4 percent in 2008, but not as well as George W. Bush’s 11 percent in 2004.
But on the first day of Black History Month, Trump somehow neglected to mention that his predecessor was not only the first African-American president, but did wildly better among Blacks than any candidate in recent memory with 93 percent in 2012 and 95 percent in 2008. The fact that Barack Obama was not mentioned in the White House, seemed palpable, but what was even more striking was that none of the other Black people in the room mentioned him either.
However, apparently the president does have support among those who Pastor Darrell Scott of Cleveland’s New Spirit Revival Center called “top gang thugs,” who he says are Trump supporters. It is unclear if Trump had overwhelming support among the nation’s inner city gangs in the election. #TeamEBONY checked, but was not able to find any public endorsements.
At any rate, the listening session continued with Trump’s promises to address inner city issues, which remained unspecific, but will apparently focus on his Housing and Urban Development choice Dr. Ben Carson, who was also at the event and appeared at his side with Omarosa Manigault, his White House public engagement surrogate.
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A version of this story appears on JETMag.com.