Vice President Mike Pence faced intense backlash on Sunday for using Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech to champion President Trump’s demand for a wall on the southern border.
Martin Luther King III on Monday blasted Pence for invoking his father’s words to pitch Trump’s immigration proposal: “The vice president attempted to compare the president to Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a bridge builder, not a wall builder. Martin Luther King Jr. would say, ‘Love, not hate, will make America great.’”
A short time later, Trump and Pence made a surprise visit to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s memorial in Washington, D.C. on Monday — but he stayed for less than two minutes (and stayed for less than 60-seconds when you discount walking to and from the memorial).
Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason noted that the president and vice president laid “a wreath at the #MLKJr memorial. After saying good morning, he left. Total trip time: about a minute or two.”
— Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) January 21, 2019
A White House pool report noted that the president said: “Good morning, everybody. Great day. Beautiful day. Thank you for being here. Appreciate it,” during his brief visit.
President Trump and VP Pence make unannounced trip to Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC. pic.twitter.com/lVYZmLYw9K
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 21, 2019
NCRM reported earlier Monday that for the second year in a row, and unlike all his predecessors since Martin Luther King, Jr. Day became an official federal holiday, had nothing planned to lead by example in observing the day. Previous presidents have honored Dr. King by framing the day as a national day of service,” as President Barack Obama called it. All volunteered, at places like schools and senior centers.
In a Sunday interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” host Margaret Brennan pressed Pence on Trump’s latest offer to end his partial federal government shutdown, which includes temporary protection for the DACA recipients that Trump himself ordered could be eligible for deportation.
“So what the president has directed us to do is to reach out with rank-and-file Democrats in the House and in the Senate,” Pence explained. “What the president presented yesterday really is an effort to bring together ideas from both political parties. I think it is an act of statesmanship on the president’s part.”
“And honestly,” he said, “the hearts and minds of the American people are thinking a lot today about [this] being the weekend we remember the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
“One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was, ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of Democracy,’” Pence said, quoting from Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech.
“You think of how he changed America, he inspired us to change through the legislative process, to become a more perfect union. That’s exactly what President Trump is calling on the Congress to do, come to the table in a spirit of good faith.”
Pence was quoting a passage from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech:
This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
It has been pointed out that MLK spoke specifically on the topic of a wall when he gave a speech in East Berlin in 1964.
“It is indeed an honor to be in this city, which stands as a symbol of the divisions of men on the face of the earth. For here on either side of the wall are God’s children and no man-made barrier can obliterate that fact. Whether it be East or West, men and women search for meaning, hope for fulfillment, yearn for faith in something beyond themselves, and cry desperately for love and community to support them in this pilgrim journey.”