Martin Luther King Jr.’s son says Trump’s speech rings hollow
President Trump was merely following a script when he read and signed a proclamation honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the slain civil rights leader’s son told the Daily News.
Trump lost any “credibility” and authority he might have had to talk about the icon when he said only a day earlier that people from Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations had come from “shithole countries,” Martin Luther King III said.
“When you make a statement like you made yesterday, the question is: ‘Do you even understand why we have a Martin Luther King holiday?’” King told The News on Friday.
“Today he’s doing what the script told him to do. Yesterday caused him to lose any level of credibility. You can talk about Martin Luther King. But the hope is you would hear and embrace what he had to say.”
Even after being excoriated by Republicans and Democrats over the vulgar remarks about immigrants, Trump awkwardly sang the praises of the civil rights leader, calling him a “great American hero.”
After inking the proclamation for Monday’s holiday, King’s birthday, Trump said, “
This is a great and important day. Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday 2018, by the President of the United States of America, a proclamation. Congratulations to him and to everybody.”
Trump made no mention of the controversial remark, and ignored a question from Urban Radio Networks reporter April Ryan, who asked, “Are you a racist?”
Also at the proclamation event was King’s nephew, Isaac Newton Farris Jr., who spoke about the dreamer’s legacy.
“If my uncle were here today, the first thing he would say is, what are we or what are you doing for others?” Farris said.
The life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
King’s son said Trump’s behavior reminded him of President Reagan’s reluctance to sign the bill establishing a holiday in his father’s name.
“When the right amount of public pressure is put on anyone, at some point they have to respond to the people,” King said.
King, whose father’s “I Have a Dream” speech stirred the nation’s conscience, gave his own assessment of the state of the union.
“We are not further away from the dream, but we are still quite a ways away,” King said. “We are a divided nation. We are segregated in some regards. We still need to address racism. We are still are a racial society, but the majority of people do not harbor racist feelings.”
King was 10 when a sniper’s bullet killed his father in Memphis nearly 50 years ago. His own daughter is 9.
“I reflect on what it would have been like to have a father for more years,” King said. “Everything is about putting things in place for her and generations yet unborn.”
King said Trump’s agenda could backfire.
“This is potentially creating a movement,” King said. “No one wants to be mistreated. When you look at the women who have spoken out, who would have thought there would be an avalanche coming? No one. This could be an interesting year.”
King is scheduled to speak at the 4th annual Long Island Legacy Gala in Brentwood on Saturday.