Atlanta — Two of Martin Luther King Jr.'s children and the pastor of his historic Atlanta church marked the national King holiday Monday with sharp denunciations of President Donald Trump, focussing on disparaging remarks he is said to have made about African countries and Haitian immigrants. Angry pro-Haiti protesters and Trump supporters yelled at each other from opposite sides of a street near the president's Florida resort.
At gatherings across the nation, activists, residents and teachers honoured the late civil rights leader on what would have been his 89th birthday and ahead of the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. But in the many speeches delivered from pulpits and podiums across the country, Trump's name came up nearly as often as King's, with speakers indicating that his turbulent presidency was undermining efforts to ease racial tensions in the US.
The president spent his first Martin Luther King Jr. Day in office buffeted by claims that during a meeting with senators on immigration last week, he used a vulgarity to describe African countries and questioned the need to allow more Haitians into the US. He also is said to have asked why the country couldn't have more immigrants from nations like Norway.
In Washington, King's eldest son, Martin Luther King III, criticised Trump, saying, "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."