Martin Luther King's daughter says 'God can triumph over Trump'

Dr. Bernice King speaks during the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 16, 2017.
PHOTO: Reuters

ATLANTA/NEW YORK - Martin Luther King's daughter said on Monday that "God can triumph over Trump," but the slain civil rights leader's son struck a conciliatory tone after meeting with the president-elect on the US holiday that honors their father.

The comments by the children of King, who championed racial justice until he was assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39, punctuated an imbroglio involving Donald Trump and African-American congressman John Lewis that broke out over the weekend.

The dispute started when Lewis, 76, a contemporary of King's who endured beatings and jail time in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, said in a televised interview that he saw Trump's election as illegitimate because of Russian interference in the campaign. That drew a scornful response from Trump.

Bernice King, King's youngest daughter, told a gathering at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta not to give up hope and"Don't be afraid of who sits in the White House." "God can triumph over Trump," she said, drawing a standing ovation, one of several times she was interrupted by thunderous applause.

The service at the church where King once preached takes place every year on Martin Luther King Jr Day, a federal holiday honoring his life. This year the holiday fell days before Barack Obama ends his second term as the country's first African-American president. Trump takes the oath of office as his successor on Friday.

Anti-Trump protests kick off ahead of his White House inauguration

  • US civil rights activists vowed on Jan 14, 2017 to defend hard-fought gains in voting rights and criminal justice during the presidency of Donald Trump, kicking off a week of protests ahead of the Republican's inauguration.
  • About 2,000 mostly black protesters ignored steady rain to march and rally near Washington's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, as speakers urged them to fight for minority rights and President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, which Trump has vowed to dismantle.
  • The rally also included the Hispanic group La Raza, politicians, relatives of African-Americans slain by police, the National Urban League, Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights.
  • The rally came hours after Trump blasted U.S. Representative John Lewis after the Georgia Democrat and civil rights campaigner said Russia's alleged hacking aimed at helping Trump put his legitimacy into question.
  • The Rev. Al Sharpton, the rally's organiser and a veteran civil rights leader, said Democrats in Congress needed to be sent a simple message: "Get some backbone."
  • About 30 groups, almost all of them anti-Trump, have gotten permits to protest before, during and after the inauguration. Thousands of demonstrators have vowed to shut down the inauguration.
  • The National Mall in Washington could become a sea of bright pink the day after Donald Trump is inaugurated as US president if the vision of a pair of Los Angeles women is realized.
  • For two months, Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman have called on people around the world to make 1.17 million pink "pussyhats" for those attending the Women's March, a rally on Jan. 21 organized with hopes of bringing attention to civil and human rights issues.
  • The women have asked volunteers around the world to help sew, crochet or knit pink hats with ears by using simple patterns available on the project's website.
  • The name of the hats comes partly from President-elect Trump's comments in an infamous 2005 tape that came to light during his campaign in which, discussing women, he said: "Grab them by the pXXXX. You can do anything."
  • They say it is easier than knitting a scarf, the typical starter project for novices.
  • Marchers can get a hat by contacting a maker through an online distribution system, through social media or at sites in Washington.
  • Organizers have said the protest could draw around 200,000 people, but Suh and Zweiman decided to aim for the 1.17 million people that could feasibly fit in the Mall.
  • For some knitters at the "pussyhat party" on Jan 13, it was hard to put the needles down as the deadline nears.

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama spent part of their last MLK Day in office helping paint a mural in the "community room"of a Washington shelter, to which they donated a play set used by their daughters when they arrived at the White House in 2009.

Trump, who won only 8 per cent of the black vote, offered praise for King in a Twitter post on Monday, a few hours before meeting King's oldest son, Martin Luther King III, at his Trump Tower offices in New York. "Celebrate Martin Luther King Day and all of the many wonderful things that he stood for. Honor him for being the great man that he was!" Trump tweeted.

Trump and King III emerged from an elevator together, shaking hands. Trump said goodbye to King, then returned to the elevator without answering questions.

King said they had a constructive meeting to discuss how to improve the US voting system, which King considers broken, but he skirted questions about whether he was offended by Trump's comments on Lewis. "First of all I think that in the heat of emotion a lot of things get said on both sides. I think at some point I bridge-build. The goal is to bring America together," King told reporters.

Lewis did not mention Trump in a speech in Miami about the civil rights struggle to honour King, who would have turned 88 on Sunday, but he urged young black Americans to consider voting a"sacred" act. "We all must become participants in the democratic process. When you get old enough to register to vote, go and register and vote," Lewis said in a half-hour address.

Gunfire during Miami holiday festivities wounded eight people ages 11 to 30 at Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park, police said. Two people were detained and two weapons seized, and the cause of the shooting is under investigation.

RUSSIAN MEDDLING

The Trump-Lewis exchange began when Lewis told NBC News in segments of an interview released on Friday that he would not attend Trump's inauguration in part because "I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president." He referred to the findings of US intelligence agencies that Russia used hacking and other methods to try to help Trump, a Republican, defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 election.

Trump was withering in his response the following day, saying in tweets that Lewis, a revered figure who risked his life for civil rights, was "All talk, talk, talk - no action or results." While many Democrats and Republicans said they disagreed with Lewis, they also questioned Trump's decision to denigrate an African-American political leader of Lewis' stature, especially over the Martin Luther King Jr weekend.

Civil rights leaders have also opposed Trump's nominee for US attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who was denied a federal judgeship in 1986 after allegations that he was racist and harboured sympathies toward the Ku Klux Klan, a violent white supremacist organisation.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has received letters from 400 civil rights organisations opposing his confirmation to the country's top law enforcement post, Democratic Senator Dianne Weinstein has said. Sessions strongly denied that he is a racist during his confirmation hearing in the Senate last week.

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