America is set to celebrate the memory of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 15 for the 32nd time. However, the week did not get off to a good start.
Just a few days prior to King’s birthday, President Donald Trump called African and Latino nations, including Haiti and Al Salvador, “shithole countries” during immigration talks with Congressional lawmakers at the White House.
But what’s worse is the fact that a day after making the highly xenophobic and racist remarks, the president invited Issac Newton Farris Jr., a nephew of Martin Luther King Jr., and put up a show to honor the revered activist.
The two actions couldn’t be more at odds with each other. How can a president, who referred to African-Americans and Latinos as people from “shithole countries,” sincerely pay tribute to a man whose entire life’s work was dedicated to bringing equality for those people?
It was for this very reason U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) — who himself was one of the “Big Six” of the Civil Rights Movement of 1963, spearheaded by King — shed tears.
In an interview with ABC’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos, Lewis said King’s dream “had been shaken” and he would not have been “pleased” with the current state of the United States.
“I don’t think there is any way that you can square what the president said [about Haiti and Africa] with the words of Martin Luther King Jr., and with what he [the president] said about Dr. King,” a tearful Lewis said. “It’s just impossible. It’s not any way you can do that. It’s unreal. It’s unbelievable. It made me sad. It made me cry.”
“As a nation and as a people we’ve come so far, we made so much progress,” he continued. “And I think this man, this president is taking up back to another place.”
“I think he is a racist,” Lewis said. “We have to stand up, we have to speak up and not try to sweep it under the rug.”
When Stephanopoulos asked him what King would be preaching if he were still alive, Lewis said, “If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were still alive, he would be speaking the idea that we're one people. We're one family. We all live in the same house, not just American house, or the world house, that we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters. If not, we will perish as fools.”
Lewis said he will not be attending Trump’s first State of the Union address that’s scheduled to take place on Jan. 30, saying he “cannot sit there and listen to him” in good conscience.
Lewis is one of the 58 House Democrats who voted last month in favor of beginning the impeachment process against the president. However, the measure failed badly in the overwhelmingly Republican-led House.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts