- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2018

President Trump signed a proclamation Friday honoring the federal holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as critics demanded that he apologize for reported derogatory comments about African nations.

After Mr. Trump signed the proclamation in a White House ceremony, a journalist, April Ryan of American Urban Radio, called out at least twice, “Mr. President, are you a racist?” The president continued to shake hands with guests and didn’t respond to reporters.

Mr. Trump praised the late civil-rights icon for “standing up the self-evident truth that Americans hold so dear: that no matter what the color of our skin, or the place of our birth, we are all created equal by God.”

“He stirred the hearts of our people to recognize the dignity written in every human soul,” Mr. Trump said.

The president has been under fire for reportedly telling a bipartisan meeting of lawmakers on immigration Thursday that the U.S. didn’t need more immigrants from “s–hole countries” in Africa. He also questioned the need for more Haitians, according to Sen. Dick Durbin, Illinois Democrat who attended the meeting.

Lawmakers and human-rights groups have called for an apology from Mr. Trump, who said on Twitter Friday that he didn’t use those precise words.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, speaking at the ceremony after the president, said Dr. King’s “message of equality, justice and the common dignity of man resounds today, urgently needed to heal the divisions of our age.”

He said all Americans should embrace Dr. King’s message of love and color-blindness.

“If we keep this conviction at the center of our every word and action, if we look upon our countrymen as brothers with a shared home and a common destination, then instead of meaningless words rolling off of our tongue, we will truly create one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” Mr. Carson said.

Dr. King’s nephew, Pastor Isaac Newton Farris Jr., also spoke at the ceremony and thanked the president “for taking the time to acknowledge this day.”

“Thank you for remembering that we’re all Americans and on this day we should be united in love for all Americans,” he said.

The official King federal holiday is on Monday.

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