President Donald J. Trump touched down in Atlanta this morning as he set out to raise money for United States Senator David Perdue as well as launch the initiative to bring Black voters to the Republican Party, titled the Black Voices for Trump Coalition. As Trump was welcomed to cheers by the crowd of about 400, the President recounted his 2016 election win by saying, “We took America back. We’ve never done better than we’re doing now. The Republican Party was the original home of African Americans, and now African Americans are returning.”

It was the refrain of many Black Republicans in the audience today as Trump touted the fact his administration increased funding to Historically Black Colleges and Universities by $100 million dollars and lifted the ban on funding to faith-based HBCUs.

“He was straightforward,” said Black Trump voter Royale Dinero when asked how Trump connected with him. “When he was asked questions in the debates, he didn’t give levels of spiel or the politican talk. He had a literal and direct approach and I loved it.”

Former presidential candidate Herman Cain, Alveda King, a niece of Martin Luther King Jr.; and Melvin Everson, a former state legislator were in attendance.

Kelvin King, an Atlanta contractor and Trump supporter, was called to the podium and he applauded Trump’s economic agenda.

The Air Force veteran credits Trump’s economic agenda for helping his business thrive.

“Our future success depends on our success in ignoring the distractions we see on a daily basis,” King said. “Don’t sit on the sidelines because of emotions or feelings.”

During his address, Trump asked the audience to imagine if the Democrats shifted their focus from impeachment and toward the Black community. He accused Democrats of wanting to “redistribute your wealth” to “places you’ve never heard of.” In addition, he said Democrats fought harder for people in the country illegally than African-American citizens.

“Under Democratic politicians, African-Americans have become forgotten – literally forgotten – Americans. Under my administration, they’ve become forgotten no longer.”

Trump supporter Angela Stanton echoed the President’s sentiments.

“One of the main reasons I supported President Trump is because of his stance on criminal justice reform. It was my own personal story, giving birth to my daughter while handcuffed to a bed in prison. I went to the President and advocated for women in prison and because of my story, he passed an act that forbids any woman to be chained to the bed during childbirth. Since he enacted his criminal justice reforms, more than 7,000 prisoners are free, 97% of them are Black.”

While the Black Republicans were inside applauding President Trump, outside, supporters and protesters alike made their voices heard. Music producer and cultural curator Isaac Hayes III said, “this ‘Blacks for Trump’ rally in Atlanta is already off to a comedic start.”

“Atlanta, my city, is too busy to hate,” said U.S. Representative John Lewis as he voiced his displeasure with President Trump’s visit to Atlanta. Trump referred to Lewis’s district as a “crime-infested” area that is in “horrible shape.”

Even Vice President Mike Pence mentioned Lewis’ march across the Selma bridge, recounting how he once asked whether the Atlanta congressman – and outspoken Trump critic – ever thought about turning back. He was told, simply, “no.”

“They helped change America for the better,” Pence said.

Even a few protesters secured passes to today’s rally, but were turned away because of their clothing. Scotty Smart arrived at the Georgia World Congress Center with a pro-Africa hoodie that read, “un-apologetically black.” Underneath his hoodie was a Colin Kaepernick jersey. He and a friend were escorted out, saying, “We just got un-invited to a Trump event. How Sway?”

In 2016, 8% of Black voters nationwide cast their ballots for Trump. And a recent poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that only 4% of African Americans think Trump’s actions and policies have benefited Black people. Today’s rally attempted to change the narrative.

Supporters of President Donald Trump wait to listen to him speak during the launch of “Black Voices for Trump,” at the Georgia World Congress Center, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...

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