The Rev. Al Sharpton blasted President Trump for failing to honor civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. with an event at the White House. “There is no official event at the White House to celebrate Martin Luther King Day,” Sharpton said Monday at a National Action Network breakfast honoring King.
“This is an insult to the American people that the president of the United States does not officially recognize or give any ceremony for Dr. King,” he said. Neither Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence has any public events planned, according to the White House.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders noted the holiday in a tweet on Monday. “Today we honor a great American who gave his life to right the wrong of racial inequality. Our country is better thanks to his inspiration and sacrifice #MLKDay,” she wrote.
Sharpton pointed out that former President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, signed the bill in 1983 creating the national holiday. It was first observed on Jan. 20, 1986. Sharpton said King, who was assassinated on April 4, 1968, was not a Republican or a Democrat, but an American icon.
The absence of a King event at the White House comes on the 31st day of the partial government shutdown that has left 800,000 federal employees either working without pay or on furlough.
“The White House has not only shut down those workers, they’ve shut down the King holiday,” Sharpton said. Typically, past presidents have honored King by volunteering after President Bill Clinton in 1994 signed legislation designating the holiday as a national day of service — “a day on, not a day off.”
Trump did not participate in any day of service activities last year.
Instead he spent the day golfing at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.