On Inauguration Day, thousands of Blacks converged in the nation’s capital to chant, hoist signs and to march — all expressions of their opposition to the presidency of Donald J. Trump.
However, among the thousands of white Trump supporters, many wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats and other paraphernalia, stood a smaller group of blacks proudly displaying their admiration for the New York City businessman on Friday, Jan. 20.
Martha House of Hacienda Heights, California, sporting a blue “Make America Great Again” hat, admitted that while a less noticeable number of Blacks have expressed support for Trump, her decision has nothing to do with race.
“I call myself a ‘Black American’ and I’d bet that Donald Trump has hired more minorities than we realize,” said House, who has attended the presidential inaugurations for former Republican presidents that include Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. “Somebody needs to shake up this country and I think he is the person to do it.”
According to blackdemographics.com, a site which analyzes polling data and other information on Blacks, about 16 percent of Blacks in 2012 affiliated themselves with the Republican Party — the highest reported number since 1960. That said, only 6 percent of Blacks voted for a Republican presidential candidate in 2012.
Only three Black Republicans currently serve in Congress: Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Reps. Mia Love of Utah and Will Hurd of Texas. Meanwhile, data from companies such as the Pew Research Center indicate that more than 8 percent of Black men voted for Trump in last year’s General Election.
One of those voters, Colorado Springs resident Rob Robinson, came to the District to join in the festivities, describing the inauguration ceremony as “another day in paradise.”
Wearing a Trump beanie and an Inauguration Day button with the New Yorker’s picture and the presidential seal, Robinson stated why as a Black man, he supports the new president.
“It’s about another day, another dollar and living to see the next day, not this racism [expletive],” Robinson said. “I see [Trump] bringing the community together and ending this racial divide.”
But not everyone celebrated last week as angry protestors smashed windows of businesses in Northwest, set one vehicle on fire and injured several police officers resulting in the arrest of more than 200 people. On Saturday, Jan. 21, dozens appeared before a D.C. Superior Court judge facing felony charges for rioting before being released and ordered to return for preliminary hearings in the next two months.
One longtime Arlington resident, Jose Reyes, said, “Trump’s presidency has its pros and cons — his lack of political experience could come back and bite him but the business aspect he brings is a real plus.”
A first-time voter and a student at the University of Missouri expressed excitement about finally being old enough to voice her conscience.
“Being able to watch the person I voted for take the oath of office has been amazing,” said Mary Mertes. “I voted for Trump because we share similar views about the kind of person who should become the next justice on the Supreme Court.”
Lincoln, Nebraska, resident Tonn Ostergard described last Friday as “one of the greatest days in American history,” adding that he’s confident that “things will change for the better.”
“We’ve been going in the wrong direction for far too long,” he said. “We need something to happen and Trump’s going to do just that,” said Andrew Pilipiak, a New Jersey resident who drove all night in order to be on hand for the inauguration.
WI Editor D. Kevin McNeir and WI Contributing Writer Lauren Poteat contributed to this story.