As Inauguration Day draws closer, Monday’s New York Times lead story by Yamiche Alcindor all but called the president-elect a racist: “In Trump Tweets, Blacks Perceive A Callous Rival – Some To Skip Inaugural – Democrats Voice Anger After Trump Impugns a Civil Rights Icon.” The jump-page headline: “In Trump Tweets, Blacks Perceive a Rival.” Text box: “Divisiveness is striking for an incoming president.” She also smeared Sen. Jeff Sessions as a racist, albeit too late for it to matter to Trump's nominee for attorney general. Also on the race front, the NYT compiled a huge, amazingly gushing collection of interviews with kids whose lives were transformed simply by being in the presence of The One.
Alcindor is quite attuned to taking offense. During the Democrat primaries she asked Sen. Bernie Sanders if he was being sexist by getting in the way of the first female president.
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On Monday, Alcindor reported:
Days before his inauguration, President-elect Donald J. Trump is engaged in a high-profile feud with some of the country’s most prominent African-American leaders, setting off anger in a constituency already wary of him after a contentious presidential campaign.
Mr. Trump’s criticism of Representative John Lewis of Georgia, a widely admired leader of the civil rights movement, has prompted a number of Democratic lawmakers to say they will not attend his inauguration on Friday.
Blacks around the country have reacted to Mr. Trump’s remarks with fury, and the subject has dominated social media and discussions among black activists. Mr. Trump said on Saturday on Twitter that Mr. Lewis, who asserted last week that Mr. Trump was not a “legitimate president,” should focus on his district and “the burning and crime infested inner-cities.”
The angry reaction is driven not only by Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts but by what many blacks say they reveal about the president-elect’s lack of understanding of the reverence with which the civil rights movement and its leaders are viewed by African-Americans.
No criticism of Lewis’s basic lack of respect for the office of the president made it into print.
Mr. Trump’s talk is especially striking as it comes during the transition period, when, typically, incoming presidents are focused on trying to bring the country together.
Mr. Trump has also not made any public announcement of plans to commemorate Martin Luther King’s Birthday, a tradition observed by most Republican and Democratic politicians. A plan for him to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Monday has been scrapped.
“Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “All talk, talk, talk -- no action or results. Sad!”
Then followed a list of tolerant liberals planning on boycotting the inauguration.
Mr. Trump had scant support in the black community before his transition began; only about 8 percent of blacks voted for him on Nov. 8. The relationship seemed further imperiled when Mr. Trump appointed his White House chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, who some people fear will bring nationalist and racist views to the West Wing.
For some reason the Times considers the race-baiter Al Sharpton a healing figure.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who led a march on Saturday in Washington, said Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts drove more people to brave the cold to demonstrate.
Alcindor used the front-page space to fight a lost battle, getting in a full paragraph of arbitrary, unnecessary smearing of Trump’s attorney general pick Sen. Jeff Sessions as a racist.
Last week, the tensions between black leaders and the incoming president were on vivid display as Senator Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican nominated for attorney general, testified at his confirmation hearing. Mr. Lewis and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey both testified in opposition to Mr. Sessions, saying he could set back racial progress by decades. Mr. Sessions has been criticized for joking in the presence of a Justice Department Civil Rights Division lawyer that the Ku Klux Klan was “O.K. until I found out they smoked pot.” He was also said to have called a black assistant United States attorney “boy” and the N.A.A.C.P. “un-American.”
Also on the race front, Caitlin Dickerson, Adeel Hassan, and Annie Correal compiled a huge, amazingly gushing collection of interviews with kids whose lives were transformed simply by being in the presence of The One: “A President Who Inspired Big Dreams, and Big Smiles, in a Young Generation.”
Michelle Yemba, who is 6 years old, often tells strangers about the time two years ago that she met the president of the United States.
The conversation started during a surprise visit by President Obama to her Head Start program in Lawrence, Kan. Mr. Obama told Michelle, pictured above, that he knew someone else with the same name -- one of his favorite people, he said, coyly referring to his wife.
“He has just a natural flow with the kids,” said Clara Cox, director of the Head Start program, recounting the visit.
One of Mr. Obama’s lasting legacies may be the symbolic impact on the generation for whom “president of the United States” has always referred to a black man. Tapping into that at events throughout his two terms, he often seemed to assume the role of national dad -- embracing the children of strangers as if they were his own.
Photos of these interactions, in which the president connected with children through poignant head pats and playful poses, have been shared widely online. As his administration ends, we look back at some of the young people who met him and how the encounters shaped their lives.