By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)
A few weeks before CBC members met with President Donald Trump at the White House, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) challenged the commander-in-chief about the way he speaks about African American communities, during an hour-long meeting in the Oval Office.
Standing in the White House driveway, just outside of the press briefing room, Cummings told reporters that he wanted Trump to know that all African-American communities are not places of depression, where people are being harmed.
“I think it would be good for him to acknowledge that most African-American people are doing very, very well,” said Cummings.
Regarding the exchange, Cummings told the NNPA Newswire Cummings that he said, “‘Nobody has probably ever said this to you, [Mr. President], but when you say things like that, you paint the whole Black community.”
Baltimore congressman and Congressional Black Caucus member added that assistance to urban communities was welcomed, but the assumption that everyone was “in a foxhole” in Black communities was inaccurate. During the 2016 presidential race, Trump often referred to Black communities as a place where people are “walking down the street” and getting shot and where violence and mayhem reign.
During their discussion, Cummings also made it clear to President Trump that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) do not need meetings—they need money. Cummings said that he was surprised when President Trump told him that the HBCU presidents did not ask for money during their visit in late February. The HBCU presidents were originally scheduled to meet with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, but were rushed into the Oval Office at the last minute for the impromptu photo-op with Trump.
“They never asked for [money],” Cummings said. “But I told them, I told them, I told them: Do not go into that meeting unless you ask for the money.”
The Baltimore congressman has been a strong supporter of HBCUs.
Cummings covered a lot of ground with Trump in a meeting that would have been unprecedented for many other recent presidents in terms of timing and subject matter. According to the Cummings, he and Trump agreed that swift action was necessary to lower prescription drug prices, the subject that was the main focus of the meeting.
Cummings also brought up voting rights and made a pitch to President Trump to think twice about a brewing “voter fraud” investigation to be headed by Vice President Mike Pence. Cummings also pushed the president to focus on the larger issue of voter suppression rather than the phantom issue of voter fraud.
Cummings has served in Congress for 21 years. He confirmed with the NNPA Newswire, that he has never had any similar meeting with any other president over that time.
Lauren Victoria Burke is a political analyst who speaks on politics and African American leadership. She is also a frequent contributor to the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com. Connect with Lauren by email at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter at @LVBurke.