Trump Africa and Haiti comments overshadows MLK Day

World Today

Protestor Pierre Gabriel from Haiti carries flags during a march on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Times Square, called Rally Against Racism: Stand Up for Haiti and Africa in New York January 15, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

Donald Trump insists he’s not a racist. The U.S. president spoke out amid the global furor over vulgar remarks he’s said to have made about Africa and Haiti. But for African Americans marking Martin Luther King Day here in the United States, it appears the damage is done, as CGTN’s Owen Fairclough reports.

Americans mark Martin Luther King Day every year with a public holiday.

This one is different, taking place days after President Donald Trump’s latest scandal – allegedly using vulgar terms to describe African countries and Haiti.

The accuracy of exactly what term Trump used is disputed, but not his disparagement of countries where many African Americans have their roots.

Talking to people who turned out along Martin Luther King Avenue in the African American Anacostia district, there was much anger among the colour and carnival.

“Trump is a racist, and he can call it whatever he thinks he’s not. He is!” ; “He’s openly racist.”; “Black people have been marginalized for years, centuries even. And it’s about time we stood back up for it.” – just three of the numerous people we spoke to.

Trump said he used tough language but not the term attributed to him by some of those present when he spoke, adding: “I am not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”

Trump also dedicated his weekly address to Martin Luther King, adding: “It is the dream of a nation faithful to its founding principle that we are all created equal.”

But for the Dr. King’s daughter, the damage has already been done.

Bernice King told a congregation in Washington, DC: “We cannot allow the nations of the world to embrace the comments from our president as a reflection of the true spirit of America.”

If the furor over Trump’s remarks have overshadowed annual tributes to the man who paid for the fight against racism with his life, it also risks relegating a pressing question about immigration that triggered the President’s remarks: what will happen to the program that has allowed the thousands of children of illegal immigrants to remain in the United States?

Republicans and Democrats have yet to find a compromise.