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Election 2016

Donald Trump Hasn't the Faintest Idea Who Frederick Douglass Is

Trump celebrates his first Black History Month by proving he has never celebrated Black History Month.

Photo Credit: YouTube

Donald Trump, whose outreach to African Americans during his campaign regularly featured mention of “the blacks,” appeared at a Black History Month event on Wednesday where he quickly made evident his complete lack of interest in or knowledge of black history.

Speaking at a meeting with African-American leaders, Trump read a scripted statement that rattled off the names of civil rights pioneers, including Frederick Douglass. Trump, who clearly had never heard of Douglass—a hero of American history—offered the following take on the revered abolitionist's work: “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job that is being recognized more and more, I noticed," Trump said.

Hardly an up-and-comer in the civil rights movement, Douglass has been dead since 1895. His legacy as a former slave-turned-outspoken abolitionist voice, and counselor to Abraham Lincoln, has made him a central figure of Black History Month celebrations for decades. Trump, who probably had to be explicitly told not to state that “all histories matter,” was clearly unaware of this.  

The rest of Trump’s speech was filled with boilerplate complaints about his mistreatment by the media and anyone else who lodges even the mildest of criticisms. Trump criticized the “hostile CNN community” and dismissed it as “fake news.” He added, “Fox has treated me very nice.”

Trump’s comments were greeted with laughter off camera, which may or may not have come from paid staffers, like those who accompany him to numerous other events. The event was also attended by Trump's Housing and Urban Development nominee Ben Carson, whose primary qualification for his new role will be that he once lived in public housing. 

Check out Trump's awkward comments in their uncomfortable entirety, below. 

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

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