NewsOne’s PolitickerOne blog tackles some of the most important topics in politics: Election 2016, moves by the Obama administration, voting rights, lawmaking, and the way that elected officials represent our communities. Three times a week, we will go beyond the mainstream media’s “pack” coverage of politics to highlight the underreported aspects of how politics and policy affect you and the people you care about. In between, follow the conversation on Twitter at #PolitickerOne.
Should Black Ministers Meet With Trump?
When Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced that 100 Black ministers would endorse his candidacy after a meeting Monday at his New York City headquarters, many were surprised–including the ministers themselves.
Last week, several Black pastors were invited to the event, including Los Angeles-based Bishop Clarence McClendon, and Detroit Bishop Corletta Vaughn, but disputed the claim that it was an endorsement. Both declined invites, but the denials prompted Trump’s campaign to cancel a news conference scheduled for Monday to announce the endorsements.
“Trump is an insult and embarrassment. But he represents the country we have become,” Vaughn wrote Wednesday on her Facebook page. “ZERO experience … Flaunting a ticket of unbridled bigotry, sexism, racism and everything that is wrong with America.”
The ministers’ meeting was criticized over the weekend in a letter from other Black faith leaders, who wrote in Ebony that Trump “uses overtly divisive and racist language on the campaign trail” and shouldn’t be a candidate for their support.
Indeed, the debate comes on the heels of reports that his supporters beat up a man wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt at a rally in Birmingham, Ala., and in light of Trump retweeting racist crime data from a Neo-Nazi group, not to mention his ceaseless anti-immigrant rants.
Atlantic City, New Jersey pastor Regena Thomas, and a Democratic political operative, told NewsOne that she knew immediately that Trump played the ministers when she heard about the alleged endorsements.
“As soon as I heard it, I knew they got played,” Thomas said. “First of all nonprofits or 501(c)(3) groups are prohibited from making political endorsements at the risk of losing their tax exempt status. Individual ministers can make endorsements, but not a church and that’s not always clear.”
Lord knows Trump will need votes from people of color if he makes it to the general election in November. A good lesson would be from failed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who lost to Barack Obama in 2012 after the president garnered a whopping 93 percent of support from African-Americans, 71 percent from Latinos and 73 percent from Asians over Romney.
During a news conference at his New York City Harlem-based National Action Network headquarters, the Rev. Al Sharpton briefly addressed the issue, saying it’s smart for Trump to meet with Black ministers, but he has to come to the table with substance.
“I hope [Trump] is challenged by those ministers, who pastor people who are victims of gun violence, on his stand on gun violence, on his stand on gun control, on his stand on background checks, on his stand on how you deal with the question of uniting policing and the community. They should not let him make a cameo appearance. They should do a full-length Q&A.”
“It would be an insult to our community and the integrity of the cloth to just have a story that he met with Black preachers and didn’t really deal with the issues that affects those in their congregation, from immigration, to violence, to policing. I’m not clear on where Mr. Trump stands on those issues, and I’m sure he’ll call me a bunch of names tonight because that’s what he does. But when you get through all of that, where is the substance? What is it that he’s proposing to do for members of the congregation?
“It’s a smart thing to do to meet with Black ministers because a majority of Black voters still go to church,” Sharpton continued, noting that Black faith leaders also plan to meet with Democrats.
“The question is, now that you are in the room with them, can you fill a room by answering their questions?” Sharpton said.
Watch Roland Martin’s exclusive interview with Dr. Steve Parson, Pastor of Richmond Christian Center discuss GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s meeting with more than 100 African American pastors at Trump Tower in New York in the video clip below.
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PHOTO CREDIT: Getty
Black Leaders Call For National Gun Violence Awareness Month
During a press conference Monday at his New York City Harlem-based National Action Network headquarters, the Rev. Al Sharpton announced that congressional leaders plan to tackle national gun violence through a month-long awareness campaign similar to those that fight breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
U.S. Reps. Charlie Rangel and Hakeem Jeffries, both of New York, will introduce a resolution Tuesday to promulgate a national gun violence awareness month, much like the one in New York State.
“It will be as substantive as we make it,” Sharpton said in a response to question about whether the month would simply be symbolic. He said elected officials would join forces with faith leaders and celebrities like director Spike Lee, who attended the news conference, to travel around the nation speaking out against gun violence.
After the premiere of his movie Chi-Raq on Tuesday, Lee plans to lead an anti-gun violence march.
N.Y. Assemblyman Keith Wright, who also attended the news conference, celebrated the national measure, which comes amid a spate of mass shootings across the nation, most recently at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“New York is the only state in the union to have a gun violence awareness month,” he said. “We will be leading a petition drive to make sure this issue does not go away. I cannot thank our congress people enough for leading this national effort, the first of its kind, to let it be known that this is not just a problem here in Harlem, not just a problem in New York, it’s a problem throughout the nation.”