At a black church in Detroit, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called Saturday for a “civil rights agenda for our time” that would deliver better education, good-paying jobs and and safer streets to inner-city neighborhoods.
Mr. Trump touted his effort to bring economic and social justice to minority but also stressed the need to restore Christian values and forge racial unity, as he reached out to minority voters who historically vote as a Democratic bloc.
The New York businessman said that it was the greatest honor his his life to be the presidential nominee of the party of Abraham Lincoln.
“It is on his legacy that I hope to build the future of the party but more importantly the future of the country and the community,” Mr. Trump said from the pulpit of Great Faith Ministries Church. “I believe we need a civil rights agenda for our time, one that ensures the rights to a great education — so important — and the right to live in safety and peace, to have a really, really great job, good-paying job and one you love to go to every morning.”
“It can happen,” he assured the congregation, which warmly received the address despite protesters outside who denounced Mr. Trump as racist.
Before the service, Mr. Trump sat for a videotaped interview with the church’s pastor, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson. The interview will by broadcast Thursday on the church’s Impact Television Network.
Mr. Jackson said that the interview and Mr. Trump’s appearance at the service were not an endorsement.
Mr. Jackson praised Mr. Trump’s address to the congregation, which included Scripture versus, and said Mr. Trump could add the title of “preacher” to his resume. The bishop also presented Mr. Trump with a prayer shawl and a study Bible.
The visit to Detroit was Mr. Trump most aggressive effort yet to court black voters. For weeks, he has appealed for minority support and argued that the Democratic Party has taken their votes for granted and for generations failed to deliver on promises to bring opportunity and prosperity to their communities.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton responded with a series of attacks, including TV ads, that accuse Mr. Trump of being aligned with white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.
“Our nation is too divided,” Mr. Trump told the congregation.
“We talk past each other not to each other,” he said. “Those who seek office don’t do enough to step into the community and learn what is going on. They don’t know. They have no clue.”
Mr. Trump said that he was different.
“I’m here today to learn so that we together can remedy the injustice in any form and so we can also remedy economics so that the African-American community can benefit economically,” he said. “Our political system has failed the people and works only to enrich itself. I want to reform the system so that it works for you, everybody in this room.”
He said reform had to come from outside the system and that was what he was offering American voters.