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

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. 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.