President Donald Trump paid his first visit Tuesday to the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which he called “a beautiful tribute to so many American heroes.”
Ahead of a meeting next week with the leaders of the nation’s historical black colleges and universities and a tentative first meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, Trump called his tour “a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms.”
“Today and every day of my presidency, I pledge to do everything I can to continue that promise of freedom for African-Americans and for every American,” he said. “We’re going to bring this country together. We have a divided country that’s been divided for many, many years, but we’re going to bring it together.”
Trump also took the opportunity to address the recent spate of anti-Semitic incidents, heeding calls from Jewish leaders and Democrats to speak out.
He called the recent threats against Jewish community centers “horrible and painful and a very sad reminder of the work that must still be one to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”
He was joined at the museum by daughter Ivanka, Housing and Urban Development Secretary-designate Ben Carson and wife Candy, Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), and presidential aide and former “Apprentice” contestant Omarosa Manigault, among others.
The visit was arranged by Manigault, a source familiar with the visit said.
The source added that the visit was originally penciled in for mid-January but was effectively nixed at that time by the Secret Service, citing security concerns.
Trump’s visit to the museum, which opened in September, coincides with Black History Month. Trump first marked the event at the beginning of the month hosting a listening session with whom the White House described as African-American leaders.
The attendees did not include leaders from top African-American advocacy groups such as the NAACP or the National Urban League, but instead featured Trump sitting alongside several of his campaign’s top black supporters and members of his administration, including Carson and Manigault.
Trump is the second member of the first family to attend the months-old museum in just a week. First lady Melania Trump visited the museum last week with Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Trump made a concerted effort to reach out to African-American voters during the campaign, including through events hosted by his National Diversity Coalition and alongside Carson, the prominent black retired neurosurgeon who endorsed Trump after dropping his own presidential bid.
But Trump’s black outreach often came under fierce criticism during the campaign.
With the exception of two visits to predominantly black churches — one in Michigan and one in Ohio — Trump largely delivered his message of outreach to African-Americans before overwhelmingly white audiences at political rallies around the country.