Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump met with a group of African-American pastors supposedly to talk about urban renewal and criminal justice reform. During the meeting, Ohio Pastor Darrell Scott called Trump “the most pro-black president,” and claimed President Barack Obama took the black community for granted.
The pastors have received widespread criticism for their meeting with Trump. Pastor John Gray of Relentless Church in Greenville, S.C. even went on Don Lemon’s CNN show to defend his actions.
“I believe that our president has fostered a culture and climate that has allowed for what was there and has been there for years to bubble up. It has empowered people in a horrific way. Absolutely. I don’t think there’s any question about it,” said Gray, when questioned about Trump’s race-baiting.
San Diego-area civil rights activist Rev. Shane Harris said the pastors should have expected the backlash.
“The community members are the one dealing with his (Trump’s) policies,” said Harris. “The pastors should be listening to them, not Trump.”
Harris said the meeting seemed to be ill planned. According to Harris, the pastors should have walked into the meeting with a clear agenda and input from their communities. But since they didn’t, the meeting came across as a photo op. He said he would only agree to go to the White House, if he could “set the agenda.”
He also said the pastors missed their chance to talk to the national media about issues they felt were important.
“If one pastor challenged the president, that would have been covered,” said Harris.
However, Harris wasn’t surprised by Scott’s fawning comments about Trump.
“I think that Darrell Scott is one his of top surrogates,” he said. “We expect that.”
Harris added that some of the pastors’ comments were ignorant. He pointed out that Obama named Eric Holder as the nation’s first black attorney general. Holder was followed by Loretta Lynch, who was the nation’s first black female attorney general.
Also, Obama did try to address prison reform by commuting a record number of sentences. He was also the first sitting president to visit a prison to raise awareness about mass incarceration.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a Los Angeles-based writer and policy analyst, said Scott’s comments, were clearly inaccurate.
“To call Trump who is the most anti-black president since Reagan, the ‘most pro-Black president,’ someone would have to be delusional, in need of professional help, or simply a bought and paid for shill for Trump,” said Hutchinson. “He is anything but. His racist attacks on immigrants, Muslims, Hispanics and black athletes, and his off the chart pandering to white nationalists and unreconstructed bigots of all stripes, are the supreme refutation of any nonsense about him being ‘pro-Black.’”
Hutchinson added that he hasn’t seen any signs of policies that would change issues that affect African Americans.
“I have seen signs of Trump’s plan for continued mass incarceration and more police killings of unarmed blacks through his Justice Department’s hard-line drug enforcement policies, refusal to investigate, let alone prosecute, cops who wantonly kill, its ramping up of private prisons, and greater support for turning over military weapons to police departments,”
Hutchinson said the White House meeting tarnished the ministers’ reputations.
“The preachers simply confirmed what many blacks have long said and that some blacks, and that especially includes black preachers, will do anything to sup with the devil if they think it will personally enrich them or curry favor with the devil for them. Trump fit the bill on that score and so did the preachers who grinned and skinned for him in to get a cheap photo op,” he said.