ABOVE: Dr. Alveda King and Bill Owens, president of the Coalition of African American Pastors, answered reporters' questions after meeting with President Donald Trump Monday at the White House.
Facing growing accusations of racism for his incendiary tweets, President Donald Trump lashed out at his critics Monday and sought to deflect the criticism by labeling Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) as a racist. He also expanded his attacks on the Rev. Al Sharpton, a prominent Cummings defender, who held a press conference in Baltimore to condemn the president.
"I have known Al for 25 years. Went to fights with him & Don King, always got along well. He "loved Trump!," the president wrote. "He would ask me for favors often. Al is a con man, a troublemaker, always looking for a score. Just doing his thing. Must have intimidated Comcast/NBC. Hates Whites & Cops!"
I have known Al for 25 years. Went to fights with him & Don King, always got along well. He “loved Trump!” He would ask me for favors often. Al is a con man, a troublemaker, always looking for a score. Just doing his thing. Must have intimidated Comcast/NBC. Hates Whites & Cops! https://t.co/ZwPZa0FWfN
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2019
Trump convened what he called a group of "wonderful inner city Pastors" for an unannounced closed-door meeting to discuss the issues facing the black community Monday.
"This country needs healing. There's so much division in America along racial lines," said Bill Owens, president of the Coalition of African American Pastors, who said he was among about 20 pastors who had met with the president.
"He wanted to know from us: What should he do in America? What best can he do?" Owens said of Trump, insisting the gathering "was not damage control."
Asked by a reporter whether he thought Trump was racist, Owens said he found that "hard to believe," but said the president could do more to address racism in the country, "absolutely."
Owens repeatedly mentioned the opportunity zones and prison reform as steps that the President has taken to help the black community and said pastors told him during Monday's meeting what else he could be doing.
Dr. Alveda King, the niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and a longtime Trump supporter, also noted Trump's longtime relationships with Sharpton and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.
"I have a beautiful picture of President Trump," she told reporters. "I'll probably tweet it today. And he was with Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton. I have a picture with me. And at one time in their lives, they highly regarded the president. And, so I'm thinking about a scripture: If it had been my enemy, I could have understood, I could have known what to do, but you were my friends and my brothers.
"So these are his brothers," she continued. "The president is concerned about the whole nation. About everybody in the nation. So I want us to remember, that we've been designed to be brothers and sisters. One member of the human race. Not separate races. The same blood. And so I was just rejoicing to be able to pray here today. And to believe that America will come together. We will learn to be brothers and sisters."
King later tweeted the photo she mentioned to the press.
— Evangelist Alveda King (@AlvedaCKing) July 29, 2019
When asked by a reporter if she found his comments on Baltimore troubling, King replied: "Well, you know, America is troubled. And if we say we're color-blind, we need to put on our glasses," she said, touching her own glasses. "We can see. We can see a troubled America, but we can see a blessed America."
"The employment rates are up in every community, including the black community," she said. "The historically black colleges and universities under this president are being blessed. The babies in the womb. The sick and poor and elderly are being blessed. We have an opportunity to continue to be blessed, and we have a president's who's listening. And I was glad to pray with him today."