Does President Donald Trump need a Black history lesson?
Trump is scheduled to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Tuesday. It’s either the president’s latest misguided attempt to embrace the Black experience or it’s a staged photo-op for Black History Month.
During his tour, Trump will likely view Emmett Till’s casket. Till was lynched at age 14 for whistling at a white woman in Money, Mississippi. The president will also see the remnants of a slave ship in an exhibit about the African slave trade. The museum also features a KKK uniform worn by a Grand Dragon of the white supremacist group.
What is the president hoping to accomplish? Does Trump just want a photo-op with Black museum officials? And why should Black folks care?
Trump’s visit to the museum comes as Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the CBC would welcome a meeting with Trump, but only if it didn’t include Steve Bannon, the top White House adviser who Jeffries called “a stone cold racist.”
Meanwhile, the architect behind Trump’s tour of the new African-American history museum may be Omarosa Manigault, a senior White House advisor and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison.
Manigault, a former pastor with the Weller Street Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, is trying to help Trump appeal to Black Americans but Trump can’t stop getting in his own way.
Earlier this month, at a Black History Month breakfast, Trump implied that Frederick Douglass, who died in 1895, was still alive. He described the 19th century abolitionist “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more.”
“I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things,” Trump said. “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.”
It wasn’t clear what Trump meant by Douglass being “recognized more and more” but it’s yet another example of Trump appearing clueless when talking about Black people.
The Douglass reference was so absurd that it prompted Andy Borowitz of The New Yorker to poke fun of Trump in a satire column about an imaginary exchange between Trump and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
“Betsy told me all about Frederick Douglass,” Trump told reporters. “I think she’s going to be a fantastic Education Secretary. She really made Frederick Douglass come alive.”
Impressed by the one-sentence summary that DeVos wrote about Douglass, Trump said that he was now considering Douglass for a top White House post.
“Based on what Betsy said about him, we could really use Fred’s energy around here,” Trump said.
And last week, at a rambling press conference, Trump suggested that April Ryan, a longtime White House correspondent, broker a meeting between Trump and the Congressional Black Caucus.
Ryan, a journalist with American Urban Radio Networks, asked Trump a direct question.
“Are you going to include the Congressional Black Caucus?” Ryan asked.
“Do you want to set up a meeting?” Trump said.
“I would love to meet with the Black Caucus. I think it’s great, the Congressional Black Caucus,” Trump said. “I think it’s great.”
So Tuesday, Trump is scheduled to tour the National Museum of African American History and Culture where former President Barack Obama suggested he visit.
I’m not sure what Trump will gain from a tour of the museum. Perhaps after viewing Emmett Till’s casket and learning about the African slave trade, the president will become more enlightened and speak more intelligently about black history instead of offering alternative facts about Frederick Douglass.
And maybe this is all just a charade; a high-profile exercise in futility.
What do you think?