Perhaps someone should call April Ryan.
A much-anticipated meeting between the Congressional Black Caucus and President Donald Trump still has not been set and while the White House refuses to say if or when such a summit will take place, caucus members appear confused as to whether Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) is even prioritizing such a gathering.
“There is nothing scheduled yet,” Richmond spokeswoman Kamara Jones told The Informer on Friday, Feb. 24.
A spokeswoman for Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge, one-time CBC chair, also said nothing has been communicated. A spokesman for D.C. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton reported similar non-action.
“There’s no word yet on the meeting. I believe the planning is still in the works,” Norton spokesman Benjamin Fritsch said. “On CBS’ ‘Face the Nation’ program, Representative Elijah Cummings said it would likely take place sometime after this week’s district work period.”
Cummings’ office did not return several messages left for the Maryland representative. White House spokesman Sean Spicer and Omarosa Manigault each also failed to respond to several messages left for them.
A week earlier during a White House press conference, Trump asked Ryan, a black journalist who is Washington bureau chief for the American Urban Radio Networks, if she could help set up a meeting between him and the CBC.
The president asked, “Are they friends of yours?”
Ryan retorted that she was “just a reporter” who knew some members of the CBC.
“Let’s go, let’s set up a meeting. I would love to meet with the Black Caucus,” Trump said.
Prior to the President’s Day recess on Feb. 20, Cummings told reporters the CBC would likely meet with Trump the week of Feb. 27.
He said African-American lawmakers would discuss with Trump the need to bring down the cost of prescription drugs — reportedly a goal Trump endorsed during the campaign when he talked about using the federal government’s negotiating power to reduce prices — as well as voting rights and job growth.
“We’re going to be meeting on prescription drugs. We’re going to be out this week, so I expect it will be next week,” Cummings said of the week after the Presidents Day recess, which started on Feb. 20.
However, there has been no noticeable traction since with many of the nation’s newspaper editorials calling for such a meeting while others noting the length of time it took former President Barack Obama to sit down with the CBC.
“It took Barack Obama two years to meet with the CBC,” Clarence McKee, a former Reagan administration appointee and a government, political, and media relations consultant, wrote for Newsmax. “Maybe I missed it, but I don’t recall any reporters ever asking him when he planned to have such a meeting.
“Yet, not even 30 days after being sworn in, Trump was asked at his press conference if he planned to meet with the CBC,” McKee said. “Of course, the reporter did not mention how long it took for Obama to have such a meeting. It has been reported that the CBC has asked for a meeting and that the White House staff is reaching out to schedule one. Trump shouldn’t waste his time
Conversely, in a New York Times editorial, Mychal Denzel Smith, author of “Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching,” argued that if Trump wants to claim that he’s the least racist person, it’s a good idea to avoid suggesting that one member of a racial group — Ryan — knows another person of that same group, simply because they share the same racial identity.
Smith said Trump should meet with the CBC — and soon.
“He could meet with the CBC. The group requested such a meeting in a letter dated Jan. 19 but the president didn’t respond,” Smith wrote.
He said Trump isn’t likely to come out of such a meeting with a wholly new perspective on black life, but talking to black individuals outside of his inner circle would be a decent start.
“He might even learn more about Frederick Douglass,” Smith said.