Martin Luther King Jr. Day was set aside to honor the legacy and sacrifices of the slain civil rights leader. But some people were either tone-deaf or downright insulting in their observance of the national holiday.
President Donald Trump was at the top of the list on Monday when he and Vice President Mike Pence spent about two minutes at Washington’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial—in what seemed like an afterthought.
“There is no official event at the White House to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. 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 Rev. Al Sharpton said Monday at a National Action Network breakfast honoring King, the New York Post reported.
Pence deservedly found himself under widespread criticism one day earlier, including from the slain civil rights leader’s son Martin Luther King III.
On Sunday, Pence told Margaret Brennan on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that Trump is like King.
“He inspired us to change through the legislative process to become a more perfect union. That’s exactly what President Trump is calling on the Congress to do,” the vice president said referring to the ongoing political battle between the president and Democrats over building a wall at the border with Mexico.
Pence was not the only tone-deaf Trump administration official. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders came under fire for her tweet on Monday honoring King as “a great American who gave his life to right the wrong of racial inequality.”
“Gave up his life”? Oh girl he was brutally murdered fighting racism and injustice. Like MURDERED!” replied @Dewayne Perkins.
Twitter user @sarahwoodwriter wrote, “He was killed. He was killed by the same type of people who continue to support Trump and attend his rallies with confederate flags and racist slogans. MLK Jr. didn’t give his life, his life was stolen. Shame on you for trying to spin that fact.”
Iowa’s racist GOP Rep. Steve King reportedly attributed a fake quote to Martin Luther King Jr. in a tweet on Monday, according to the Huffington Post. Steve King, who has a long history of making racist statements, has been fighting calls for his resignation after he recently defended white supremacy during an interview with the New York Times.
Florida’s newly elected Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis tried to undo his racist history by boasting about his appointment of a few African Americans during a speech on Monday at a historically Black church in South Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
It wasn’t just public officials who stumbled. Florida State University found itself apologizing Monday for a tweet intended to celebrate King, USA Today reported. It depicted King wearing an FSU football glove and appearing to do the team’s tomahawk chop.