‘This is an insult to the American people that the president of the United States does not officially recognize or give any ceremony for Dr. King…’
(Leonard Greene, New York Daily News) Hours after being roundly criticized for ignoring Martin Luther King Jr. on a national holiday in his honor, President Donald Trump made an unannounced visit Monday at a Washington memorial erected for the slain civil rights leader.
Joined by Vice President Pence, Trump made a brief appearance at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial where he laid a wreath at the stone monument.
Trump ignored reporters, who disrespectfully shouted questions at him during his moment commemorating King about the partial government shutdown. Nonetheless, some continued to harp on the fact that his 90-second appearance wasn’t long enough and that he made no mention of King.
Earlier in the morning, Trump was assailed by the Rev. Al Sharpton, who was hosting potential Democratic presidential candidates at a Washington, D.C., breakfast used the pretense of honoring King to take partisan potshots at the president, which included noting that neither Trump nor Pence had ceremonies honoring King on their public schedules.
The White House calendar, in fact, listed no public events of any kind for the day.
“Today as we have this breakfast, there is no official event at the White House to celebrate Martin Luther King Day,” Sharpton said at the event featuring former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who are both believed to be eyeing 2020 presidential runs.
“The vice president … nor the president, have any official thing on their calendar to celebrate a federal holiday that Ronald Reagan signed,” Sharpton said. “This is an insult to the American people that the president of the United States does not officially recognize or give any ceremony for Dr. King.”
The media was widely derided in December for criticizing Trump for not visiting troops during the Christmas holiday. Much to their chagrin, Trump made surprise appearances at bases in Iraq and Germany shortly thereafter.
In addition to the appearance at the MLK memorial, Trump also issued a King proclamation.
Former President Barack Obama also reminded his followers of King’s message on Twitter.
“I’ve always drawn inspiration from what Dr. King called life’s most persistent and urgent question: ‘What are you doing for others?’” Obama wrote. “Let’s honor his legacy by standing up for what is right in our communities and taking steps to make a positive impact on the world.”
Other than the tweet, it was not immediately clear how Obama, celebrating the 10th anniversary of his own inauguration, planned to honor King through public service during the holiday.
Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.
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