20 faith leaders met with Trump, Atlanta’s Alveda King among them

By Shelia Poole, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. joined 20 other inner city faith leaders in a Monday meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House.

Atlanta Evangelist Alveda King said she was invited to the meeting that was planned several weeks ago.

The meeting comes as Trump faces increasing accusations of racism for a series of tweets attacking four freshman lawmakers — all women of color — and describing Rep. Elijah Cummings’ mostly-black district in Baltimore as a “disgusting rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”
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FILE — Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 12, 2019. President Trump denied on Sunday that his attacks on Cummings and his “disgusting, rat and rodent infested” district were racist even as he fired back at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) by targeting her district as well.
Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/The New York Times

Cummings, a Democrat, is chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee.

Trump also turned his anger on the Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist and host of “PoliticsNation” on MSNBC, saying he was a “conman” and “hated whites and cops.”

King said she didn’t directly ask Trump about the tweets, “you would have to talk to others in the room and ask that same question.”
Alveda King (2R), niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speaks to the media following a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump and other faith-based inner-city leaders at the White House on July 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. U.S. President Donald Trump has again been labeled a racist after launching a Twitter attack on Rep. Elijah Cummings and the district he represents say that Baltimore is, disgusting, rat- and rodent-infested.
Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Photos taken after the meeting with Trump, included the Atlanta author and anti-abortion activist, the Rev. Billy Owens, who runs the conservative Coalition of African-American Pastors, and Bishop Harry Jackson of Maryland.

It’s unclear whether there were other faith leaders from Georgia.

King said the meeting was not a photo op and focused on urban affairs, “things that many of us around the table were concerned about” including the sanctity of life, urban development, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, prison reform, jobs and HBCUs.

King said she doesn’t think Trump is racist and or that his words and actions have emboldened white supremacists.

“I don’t believe white supremacists need anyone to embolden them, they’re bold enough all on their own and they are in great need of prayer,” she said.

“I have a picture of Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton with Donald Trump, he wasn’t president then, and they were friends,” she said. “They were all supposed to be friends and look where we are now. It’s time for us as a nation to reconcile as one blood, one human race and work things out together.”

One person who wasn’t invited was the Rev. Jamal H. Bryant, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Stonecrest.

Bryant was founder and pastor of Empowerment Temple in Baltimore and is a native of the city.
Pastor Jamal Bryant said he felt he and his congregation at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Stonecrest, Georgia, had a responsibility to help those in need.
Photo: WSBTV.com

“I would not have come to the White House unless I was escorting Congressman Cummings there to receive an apology,” Bryant told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

He called out Trump for the “hypocrisy” of his platform of “Making America Great Again.”

“Well, Baltimore is part of America. We’re not perfect, we have room for improvement and he has the power to help us in areas where we are deficit.”

Bryant said he was unnerved, but not surprised by Trump’s comments. “He has a high disdain for any area that is populated by people of color.”

Last year, Trump referred to Haiti and several African nations as “shithole countries.”

Maryland’s Republican Governor Larry Hogan told the White House and Congressional Democrats on Monday to stop the social media bickering and find a way to help reduce crime in Baltimore.