President Donald Trump’s racist attacks are bringing up painful memories for black Americans who lived through the civil rights era.
The president has been hurling racist abuse at lawmakers and other public figures who are black, Latino or Muslim, along with the city of Baltimore, and his rhetoric is giving “flashbacks” to African-Americans, reported USA Today.
Mary Harper was one of the first black workers hired at the Cincinnati offices of a major national insurance company, and she recalls stepping onto the elevator one day when a white worker turned to her and sneered: “I guess they’re hiring more roaches now.”
“Trump’s racist words have been giving me flashbacks,” Harper told the newspaper. “You never forget the hurt of something like that, but why am I being reminded of it by the president?”
Ray Boston, a 74-year-old longtime Cincinnati resident, doesn’t understand why anyone would think Trump isn’t a racist.
“To criticize black politicians for the problems in their communities, when as the president of the United States, you actually have the power to do something to change things yet do nothing,” Boston said. “What he’s saying is nonsense.”
The president and Vice President Mike Pence will visit Harper’s hometown Thursday for a political rally, and Harper and other black residents are dreading the possibility of more hate-fueled rhetoric.
“Cincinnati is at a racial crossroads,” said the Rev. Damon Lynch III, a local civil rights activist and pastor at New Prospect Baptist Church. “I understand you may support him for his economic views or because you like who he may appoint to the Supreme Court. But, as Christians, don’t we have to speak out?”
Cincinnati, which is far more black and more liberal than the suburban and rural areas just outside of city limits, is almost like a “little West Berlin surrounded by East Germany” said
University of Cincinnati political scientist David Niven.
“I would say the main consequence of a rally like this is it will help serve to harden the division between Cincinnati itself and the surrounding community,” Niven said. “This is not a rally for Cincinnati even though it’s a rally in Cincinnati. This is a rally for folks who live 45 miles outside the town.”