Martin Luther King Jr.’s eldest son, Martin Luther King III, criticized President President Donald Trump on Monday for what King said was Trump’s insistence that “our nation needs more citizens from white states like Norway.”
“When a President insists that our nation needs more citizens from white states like Norway, I don’t even think we need to spend any time even talking about what it says and what it is,” King said in Washington, according to the Associated Press, adding: “We got to find a way to work on this man’s heart.”
The AP reported that King referred to the segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace, saying “George Wallace was a staunch racist and we worked on his heart and ultimately George Wallace transformed.”
King was discussing Trump’s comments, first reported by the Washington Post, that the United States should reject migrants from “shithole countries” — including, according to the Post, Haiti, El Salvador and unnamed African nations — in favor of migrants from places like Norway.
Trump golfed on Monday, skipping the traditional volunteer activities with which other presidents have engaged on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, CNN reported. Neither Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence had any scheduled events for Monday, according to White House press guidance emails. Pence on Monday posted a video of him laying a wreath at the memorial to King in Washington, D.C. the previous day, and the White House released a pre-recorded statement from Trump honoring the federal holiday.
CNN noted that, while marking the holiday on Friday, Trump urged Americans “to observe this day with acts of civic work and community service in honor of Dr. King’s extraordinary life — and it was extraordinary indeed — and his great legacy.”
Martin Luther King III told the New York Daily News on Friday, referring to Trump’s remarks earlier in the day: “Today he’s doing what the script told him to do. Yesterday caused him to lose any level of credibility. You can talk about Martin Luther King. But the hope is you would hear and embrace what he had to say.”
King visited Trump Tower days before the President’s inauguration last year, saying at the time that “we will continue to evaluate” whether Trump would live up to his pledge to be a President for all Americans.
He told Rev. Al Sharpton Sunday, on Sharpton’s show on MSNBC, “It’s not evident that [what I said to him] got through. It does not seem like it. Yes, I’m disappointed, but, you know, we have to win battles every day.”