On King day, Trump mentioned as much as civil rights leader

ATLANTA (AP) — They had gathered to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr., but many of those who delivered speeches on the national holiday created to honor the slain civil rights leaders focused their remarks on another man: President Donald Trump.

King

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter, the Rev. Bernice King speaks during the Martin Luther King, Jr. annual commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. (Phil Skinner/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)


Two of King's children, the pastor of the Atlanta church where King once preached, and the Rev. Al Sharpton were among those on Monday who indicated that the Trump presidency was undermining efforts to ease racial tensions in the U.S. And they sharply criticized disparaging remarks about African countries and Haiti he is said to have made last week.

Trump marked his first Martin Luther King Jr. Day as president buffeted by claims that during the meeting with senators on immigration last Thursday, he questioned why the U.S. is accepting more immigrants from Haiti and "shithole countries" in Africa, when it should be welcoming more people from nations like Norway.

Trump has denied saying "anything derogatory" about Haitians, and said he did not use the vulgar language that has been reported. And his weekly address to the nation, released Monday, was dedicated to King.

"Dr. King's dream is our dream, it is the American dream, it's the promise stitched into the fabric of our nation, etched into the hearts of our people and written into the soul of humankind," he said. "It is the dream of a world where people are judged by who they are, not how they look or where they come from."

His words appeared to do little to assuage the anger of pro-Haiti protesters who gathered down the street from the president's Florida retreat — or soften the criticism unleashed from podiums and pulpits across the nation on what would have been King's 89th birthday.

"When a president insists that our nation needs more citizens from white states like Norway, I don't even think we need to spend any time even talking about what it says and what it is," King's eldest son, Martin Luther III, said Monday in Washington. "We got to find a way to work on this man's heart."

In Atlanta, King's daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, told hundreds of people who packed the pews of the Ebenezer Baptist Church where her father once preached that they "cannot allow the nations of the world to embrace the words that come from our president as a reflection of the true spirit of America."

"We are one people, one nation, one blood, one destiny. ... All of civilization and humanity originated from the soils of Africa," Bernice King said. "Our collective voice in this hour must always be louder than the one who sometimes does not reflect the legacy of my father."

Church pastor the Rev. Raphael Warnock also took issue with Trump's campaign slogan to "Make America Great Again."

Warnock said he thinks America "is already great ... in large measure because of Africa and African people."

Down the street Monday from Trump's Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, Haitian protesters and Trump supporters yelled at each other from opposing corners. Trump was staying at the resort for the holiday weekend.

Video posted by WPEC-TV showed several hundred pro-Haiti demonstrators yelling from one side of the street Monday while waving Haitian flags. The Haitians and their supporters shouted "Our country is not a shithole."

The smaller pro-Trump contingent waved American flags and campaign posters and yelled "Trump is making America great again." One man could be seen telling the Haitians to leave the country. Police kept the sides apart.

In New York, the Rev. Al Sharpton and a host of Democratic politicians took aim at Trump in their comments before a crowd of 200 at the National Action Network in Harlem.

"Our outrage, our activism, is more important now than it's ever been," said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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Associated Press writers Lisa Adams in Atlanta and Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, contributed to this report.


King children criticize Trump, decry racism on MLK holiday

By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr. ,  Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — Two of Martin Luther King Jr.'s children and the pastor of his historic Atlanta church marked the national King holiday Monday with sharp denunciations of President Donald Trump, focusing on disparaging remarks he is said to have made about African countries and Haitian immigrants. Angry pro-Haiti protesters and Trump supporters yelled at each other from opposite sides of a street near the president's Florida resort.

At gatherings across the nation, activists, residents and teachers honored the late civil rights leader on what would have been his 89th birthday and ahead of the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. But in the many speeches delivered from pulpits and podiums across the country, Trump's name came up nearly as often as King's, with speakers indicating that his turbulent presidency was undermining efforts to ease racial tensions in the U.S.

The president spent his first Martin Luther King Jr. Day in office buffeted by claims that during a meeting with senators on immigration last week, he used a vulgarity to describe African countries and questioned the need to allow more Haitians into the U.S. He also is said to have asked why the country couldn't have more immigrants from nations like Norway.

In Washington, King's eldest son, Martin Luther King III, criticized Trump, saying, "When a president insists that our nation needs more citizens from white states like Norway, I don't even think we need to spend any time even talking about what it says and what it is."

He added, "We got to find a way to work on this man's heart."

In Atlanta, King's daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, told hundreds of people who packed the pews of the Ebenezer Baptist Church that they "cannot allow the nations of the world to embrace the words that come from our president as a reflection of the true spirit of America."

"We are one people, one nation, one blood, one destiny. ... All of civilization and humanity originated from the soils of Africa," Bernice King said. "Our collective voice in this hour must always be louder than the one who sometimes does not reflect the legacy of my father."

Church pastor the Rev. Raphael Warnock also took issue with Trump's campaign slogan to "Make America Great Again."

Warnock said he thinks America "is already great ... in large measure because of Africa and African people."

Down the street from Trump's Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday, Haitian protesters and Trump supporters yelled at each other from opposing corners. Trump was staying at the resort for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. Video posted by WPEC-TV showed several hundred pro-Haiti demonstrators yelling from one side of the street Monday while waving Haitian flags. The Haitians and their supporters shouted "Our country is not a shithole," referring to comments the president reportedly made. Trump has said that is not the language he used.

The smaller pro-Trump contingent waved American flags and campaign posters and yelled "Trump is making America great again." One man could be seen telling the Haitians to leave the country. Police kept the sides apart.

Trump dedicated his weekly address to the nation, released Monday, to King.

"Dr. King's dream is our dream, it is the American dream, it's the promise stitched into the fabric of our nation, etched into the hearts of our people and written into the soul of humankind," he said in the address, which he tweeted to his followers. "It is the dream of a world where people are judged by who they are, not how they look or where they come from."

The president's remarks appeared not to resonate with the Rev. Al Sharpton, who also used the holiday to take aim at the racial rhetoric Trump is said to have used.

"Trump Tower is in the wrong state," Sharpton told a crowd of 200 at the National Action Network in Harlem. He said it was embarrassing that Trump is from New York. "What we're going to do about Donald Trump is going to be the spirit of Martin Luther King Day," he said.

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Associated Press writers Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Lisa J. Adams in Atlanta, contributed to this report.