Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump recently had to walk back an announcement that he would receive endorsements from about 100 prominent black preachers.
The intent of the meeting was quickly downgraded from an endorsement event to a meet-and-greet after pastors complained they never offered their support. Some said they never would.
Last week, Trump called a press conference where endorsements were expected to be announced. However, those invited wrote an open letter on Ebony.com saying they had been “blindsided” by the Republican presidential candidate.
The letter was signed by more than 100 pastors and stated “Trump’s racially inaccurate, insensitive and incendiary rhetoric should give those charged with the care of the spirits and souls of black people great pause.”
Bishop Clarence McClendon, of the reality TV show “Pastors of L.A.,” said on Facebook he was invited to Trump’s gathering, but has not yet decided which candidate to support.
According to CNN, Trump also invited Bishop Corletta Vaughn, but she announced she would neither attend nor endorse him. “Trump is an insult and embarrassment…flaunting a ticket of unbridled bigotry, sexism, racism, and everything that is wrong with America,” she said on Facebook.
Bishop Paul S. Morton tweeted that he “refused” to meet with Trump or endorse him because of his disrespect toward people.
Over the weekend, the press conference was cancelled. Instead, Trump met privately with members of the clergy to “engage in dialogue” at his Trump Towers headquarters in New York.
According to the New York Times, Pastor Darrell Scott of the New Spirit Revival Center in Ohio helped to organize the meeting. Scott, a Democrat who has voted for President Barack Obama, backs Trump’s candidacy. After meeting Trump, Scott rejects the widespread view that the candidate is a racist.
“I was looking for some subtle hints of racism. I didn’t see it at all,” Scott told the Times.
Last week a protestor was knocked down, punched and kicked at a Trump rally in Alabama after chanting “Black Lives Matter.” Video shows all those who attacked him were white and Trump was heard saying, “Get him the hell out of here.” No arrests were made.
Making matters worse, Trump tweeted some false statistics that blacks are largely responsible for the number of white people who are murdered. Citing the Crime Statistics Bureau in San Francisco as his source, the image that he posted claimed that 81 percent of whites are killed by blacks—a gross exaggeration, reputable news sources say. In addition, fact checkers said the Crime Statistics Bureau does not exist.
Trump blamed the Black Lives Matter movement for the lack of support among pastors. He told MSNBC, “I think what happened, probably some of the #BlackLivesMatter folks called them up and said, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be meeting with Trump because he believes that all lives matter,'” he said.
“What I think what happened is a lot of pressure was put on them,” Trump continued. “I have a great relationship with the black pastors.”
After commenting on the staggering statistics about unemployment among black youth, Trump vowed to “do something about it,” but gave no details.