Is the controversy between Lewis and Trump an isolated incident or a trend that will haunt America for the next 4-8 years?
Today is recognized as the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service nationwide.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is an icon of the civil rights movement. His life and work symbolize the quest for equality and nondiscrimination that lies at the heart of the American dream. Dr. King put his life on the line for freedom and justice every day.
President-elect Donald Trump was scheduled to visit the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture today in observance of Martin Luther King Day. However, ABC News reported that Trump will no longer make the trip to the museum due to scheduling issues, and that he will observe Martin Luther King Day in Washington D.C. in a different way.
The news surrounding the change in plans came after the president-elect went to Twitter attacking civil rights hero, Congressman John Lewis.
On January 13, Lewis appeared on Meet the Press. While on the air with Chuck Todd, Lewis expressed his opinions about president-elect Donald Trump, and shared concerns that Russian hacking had a strong effect on the results of the 2016 election. Asked whether he would try to forge a relationship with the president-elect, Lewis said that he believes in forgiveness, but added, “It’s going to be very difficult. I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.” Lewis went on to say, “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.” Lewis further stated that he did not plan to attend Trump’s inauguration on Friday, January 20 – the first one that he will miss since being elected to Congress. When explaining why, Lewis said, “You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong.”
Trump didn’t wait long to fire back at Lewis. He took to Twitter saying that the long-standing Georgia Congressman should “spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!”
Trump has characterize black neighborhoods as ghettos and seems to generally have a distorted, inaccurate view of what life in cities is like. Just for the record, Lewis represents Georgia’s 5th congressional district, which crime and poverty statistics are above the national average, the area is also home to several Fortune 500 companies — including Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines. It is also home to some fine educational institutions like Emory University and Georgia Tech and has one of the nation’s busiest airport, Atlanta Hartsfield. Lewis’ District is not, in any way, “in horrible shape and falling apart.”
As you can imagine, Lewis’ interview, and Trump’s reaction, have led to criticism from both sides. Some Republicans say that despite having a great deal of respect for the work Lewis did during the Civil Rights Era, there is no excuse for his rhetoric or inauguration boycott. They question how Lewis would have reacted if a sitting Republican Congressman denied the legitimacy of a newly-elected Barack Obama. Was Lewis wrong in what he said or was he simply basing his comments on the words and actions of the president-elect who also (finally) acknowledged that Russia did engage in hacking during the campaign?
On the flip-side, others say that Mr. Trump simply refuses to let anyone make any comments about him; he must tweet and attack. Some believe he is a racist. For years, Trump was the lead promoter of the theory that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, not the United States, and was therefore not a legitimate president. That conspiracy was based on nothing other than the fact that Obama is black. Trump did finally admit that Obama was born in Hawaii, but not until this past September, near the end of the presidential campaign ― after years of insisting the opposite.
Lawsuit Financial writes, not to take a stand in the “war” between Trump and Lewis, but to remind everyone that today, we not only celebrate the achievements and struggles faced by people of color, but the dream Martin Luther King, Jr. had for America – “to make America great.” It is a holiday for all people. It is a time to recall our roots and remember whose footsteps we follow when we fight for what is right. The footsteps of Dr. King are hallowed ground. King once said: “One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized, cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.” Both the President-Elect and the Congressman should heed these wise words. I also invite both men to focus on these additional wise words from Dr. King: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.