Black Excellence

Trump Makes MLK Birthplace A National Historic Park. Opportunistic Move? I Say Yes.

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Donald J. Trump signed into law a bill that upgrades the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. into a national historic park, January 8, 2018. High praise to the man for that. MLK cannot be celebrated enough. Let us try to look a bit deeper, though.

Let’s just forget all the (contrarian) exclusivity and division that has made up Trump’s rhetoric of the last three years, including the racist Mexican disparagements. Blot out his history with housing discrimination toward black and minority communities. Let’s go deeper. Which is going to be quite hard.

It really is difficult to understand what’s going on in this man’s mind. Difficult, maybe, even for him.

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Birth Home of Martin Luther King, Jr
Gary Tarleton, NPS, HFC

When someone tweets so many foibles, so often, in the seat that is the most powerful in all the world, you have to wonder if they’ve tuned out their own brain’s broadcasts, changed the channel, because they dislike the station.

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Here’s what I want you to ask yourself: Who are some of the most prominent members of his staff? Is not a man a measure of the company he keeps? Let’s look at some of the people in this business:

Betsy DeVos, that brilliant Sec. of Education who tried to make a speech at a historically black college, despite taking money from black school districts for decades to open up charter schools in her home state of Michigan.

Stephen Miller, that smarmy-looking man with the mechanical face, who had to have his mic shut off when he proceeded to repeat responses instead of actually debate policy, once booted a childhood friend in high school because he was Latino and even bemoaned that students at his California high school spoke Spanish.

And of course, there’s that Keebler-elf of an AG, Jeff Sessions, who has tossed hundreds, maybe thousands of black men in prison for low-level weed possession and is now trying to illegalize weed, even in weed legal states. Check out some of that policy here.

And that’s not to mention Trump’s pardoning of Judge Arpaio, his comments about Obama being from Kenya, attacking Muslim Gold Star parents, and a whole laundry list of other off-the-cuff statements that exhaust and confound me due to their racist under, and, overtones.

I know some of the right-wing readers will protest “but he’s got black people on his staff! He’s not a bigot, damnit!” Yeah, Omarosa left, or, maybe was dragged out, and Ben Carson, a brain surgeon, is head of Housing and Urban Development.


Bigot or no, Mr. Trump is certainly an opportunist, and because January 15, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and Donald’s ratings are at an all-time low, wouldn’t it make sense to try and seize the opportunity?

One thing he could do, if he’s so pro-MLK, (and if you believe he’s sincere about making a national park with the name of one of the most respected civil rights activists in American history, I offer you this challenge as well) is take heed of this quote from the man himself, reflect, and act on it:

“One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.”

Stay woke, Mr. Trump, you stable genius. Stay woke.

Alex Miller

Alex Miller is a freelance writer living in Harlem. His work has appeared in Forbes, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other places.