Nearly fifteen African-Americans today in North Philadelphia met with Republican presidential nominee Mr. Donald Trump ahead of his Saturday trip to Detroit where he will participate in a heavily scripted television interview with Pastor Wayne Jackson, the founder of a Christian broadcast channel.
While activists protested Mr. Trump’s visit outside the banquet hall on Brown Street owned by the Greater Exodus Baptist Church, and during a press conference a mile away attended by city and state officials that, too, emphasized a lack of support for the New York City real-estate mogul, Mr. Trump indoors lamented about crime, education and unemployment but didn’t, due to a time constraint, detail any policies to address them.
According to an attendee of the meeting, Mr. James Jones, a Republican campaigning to serve the 2nd Congressional District, the billionaire former reality television star was vague, pleasant and absent of a blueprint to, well, make America great again.
“I can’t tell you exactly what his plan is,” admitted Mr. Jones, who was confronted by protesters when he, upon my request after exiting the building, divulged details about the invite-only meeting.
“A scam,” is how Mrs. Renee Street-Toppin, who was denied access to the building despite her claim that she was the National Spokesperson for the Trump Campaign’s Diversity Coalition, characterized the meeting. Mrs. Toppin, the daughter of 2015 Philadelphia Mayoral candidate Mr. Milton Street, said she was extremely disappointed by the Trump campaign, who hasn’t returned any of her calls, and then she, after ripping up the letter that acknowledged her title, withdrew her official support for Mr. Trump.
“Today was the final straw,” Mrs. Toppin, who touted that she has nearly a quarter of a million black women following her on Facebook, yelled to the local news media just feet from the building’s entrance.
A block away from Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Ave, which is two subway stops from the location that hosted Mr. Trump’s meeting, Philadelphia City Council members, one State Representative who’s actually Mr. Jones’ Democrat opponent in the race for the 2nd Congressional District, and others – including Mr. Sharif Street, the cousin of Mrs. Street-Toppin – denounced the Republican presidential nominee and expressed exuberant support for Mrs. Hillary Clinton.
Philadelphia City Council President Mr. Darrell Clarke said Mr. Trump has lived for 70 years and is just now, two months from the election, figuring out how to have a conversation with African-American communities. Mr. Clarke, who called Mr. Trump a “crazy man,” said his slogan is about turning back the clock; and, regarding the question of “What do you have to lose?,” the powerful and influential Democrat answered: “the Supreme Court.”
Freshman City Councilwoman Ms. Helen Gym called the nearby meeting with African-Americans a “sideshow circus” and said Mr. Trump is “clearly unfit” to hold any elected office, especially the White House.
A former education reform advocate and the first Asian-American woman elected to Philadelphia City Council, Ms. Gym said when she hears Mr. Trump speak of extreme ideological vetting what comes to mind is 20th Century government-sanctioned Japanese interment camps.
A Puerto Rican woman, Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez called Mr. Trump’s repeated mis-characterization of Mexicans “unacceptable” and said he’s man who has proven his ability to “unite hate.”
“This is scary… I have never seen anyone so divisive,” the Councilwoman, who favors sanctuary cities and believes they’re about social justice and public safety not, as Mr. Trump has put it, harboring criminals, said.
“We understand the importance of what divisiveness can do in this city… We’re better together,” State Rep. Dwight Evans remarked.
Mr. Jones, who claims to have Mr. Trump’s support in running against State Rep. Evans, said the overall theme of the meeting was about creating “a level of inclusion.” Mr. Trump confirmed to Mr. Jones et al. that he will return, likely before the election, to Philadelphia.
Dr Janet Sturtevant, an elder in the A.M.E Church, said Mr. Trump was invited to Philadelphia months ago for the 2016 A.M.E General Conference but declined, though Mrs. Clinton, who appears to have the black vote on lock, accepted the invitation to speak.
“We have to get Hillary Clinton in office,” Mr. Clarke declared.
When I asked whether the coalition present at this afternoon’s press conference would push Mrs. Clinton as simply a counter to the evil of Mr. Trump, Dr. Sturtevant said the former Secretary of State is more than just an alternative to Mr. Trump: she’s strong, brilliant, experienced, connected and qualified to occupy the position of President of the United States of America.
As to Dr. Sturtevant’s thoughts on a Trump presidency, the clergywoman said: “I’m scared… I’m honestly scared… we all need to be scared.”
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
The role of men is changing in the 21st century. Want to keep up? Get the best stories from The Good Men Project delivered straight to your inbox, here.
Photos courtesy of the author.