CNN commentators Symone Sanders and Paris Dennard nearly jumped down each other’s throats Wednesday, Feb. 1, after President Donald Trump’s Frederick Douglass blunder at a Black history event.
During the telecast of “CNN Tonight,” Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson, staunch liberal commentator Symone Sanders and GOP commentator Paris Dennard debated whether Trump has a genuine interest in helping the Black community.
Dyson told the panel that Trump seemed completely unbothered about his woeful lack of knowledge on Black history.
“I have never seen a president so blatantly, unapologetically and unmolested by enlightenment,” Dyson says. “Look, if Donald Trump were to be serious about that Black history, talking about Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass, who said, ‘What to the Negro is the fourth of July?’ Martin Luther King, who said that he was sorry to conclude that most Americans were unconscious racists, and Harriet Tubman, who constantly left her safety zone … to free slaves. If he were to truly associate himself with those figures, he might have to be self-critical about his particular administration.”
Social media users hammered Trump for seemingly believing Douglass was still alive because of the way Trump spoke about the great historical figure. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer commented on the flub, but his statements also implied Douglass was still alive, adding fuel to the social media controversy.
After Spicer’s statements were replayed for viewers, Sanders said flat-out that the president doesn’t know Black history. She also reminded the panel that writer and historian Carter G. Woodson started the celebration to educate America about Black history. “We need Black history because the White House Press Secretary doesn’t know Black history and the president does not know Black history, neither [does] Mike Pence,” she exclaims.
While Dyson’s statements also were critical of Trump, Dennard didn’t attack the esteemed professor and author. He did, however, get snippy at Sanders. Dennard, who was at the meeting, said that the president was referring to Douglass’ exhibit at the African-American History Museum in Washington D.C.
For the most part, the liberal panelists welcomed the idea of Trump having a dialogue about Black issues. Around the 5-minute mark, Dennard insisted that if Trump invited her to have a seat at the table, she should take it. Then, a cacophony of shouts over the Black history meeting started as Dyson sat there staring and waiting for a chance to speak.
Host Don Lemon managed to calm the two, allowing Sanders to say Trump’s history with Black people is shaky. She said that Trump has only talked and made no concerted effort to propose actual policy. Sanders also noted that Trump nominated Sen. Jeff Sessions for U.S. Attorney General, despite the Alabama senator being an opponent of civil liberties for Black people.
“I’ll take a page out of Kanye West’s book,” Sanders said. “Donald Trump doesn’t care about Black people.”