White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday that President Donald Trump “wants to highlight the contributions” Frederick Douglass has made to the country, without giving any indication of what those contributions were.
In a listening session Monday morning to mark Black History Month, Trump described Douglass as someone who “has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more.” A reporter asked Spicer at the daily briefing what exactly Trump was referring to by way of Douglass’ contributions.
“I think he wants to highlight the contributions that he has made,” Spicer responded. “And I think through a lot of the actions and statements that he’s going to make, I think the contributions of Frederick Douglass will become more and more.”
Spicer and Trump’s use of the present tense to describe Douglass only muddied things, as Douglass, the 19th-century black abolitionist leader who was the first black citizen to hold a high rank in the U.S. government, died in 1895.