Washington, The daughter of civil rights icon Martin Luther King has debunked a claim that her father would have been “proud of” US President Donald Trump.
Bernice King’s comments came after Trump’s former top strategist Stephen Bannon said in an interview on Wednesday that he believed that King “would have approved of the US President’s economic policies” and “would be proud of” him for creating jobs for black and Hispanic people.
Bernice King, however, said Bannon had “dangerously and erroneously co-opted my father’s name”.
Instead, she said her father would be “extremely disturbed” by the climate created by leaders, who emboldened people to easily express and demonstrate cruelty, predominantly towards people of colour and immigrants.
Bannon was speaking to the BBC’s Newsnight programme when he said: “If you look at the policies of Donald Trump, anybody — Martin Luther King — would be proud of him, of what he’s done for the black and Hispanic community for jobs.
“It’s the lowest unemployment in recorded history. You don’t think Martin Luther King would be proud?”
“You don’t think he (King) would sit there and go: ‘You’re putting black men and women to work.
“And you’re finally stopping the illegal alien labour force that’s coming in to compete with them every day and destroying the schools and destroying the health care? Absolutely,” Bannon said.
His comments quickly spread across the Atlantic, playing on US national news networks. Bernice King, who is also chief executive of The King Centre, said the idea that her father would have supported Trump ignored many of Martin Luther King’s values.
It “wholly ignores Daddy’s commitment to people of all races, nationalities, being treated with dignity and respect”, she said.
“My father’s concerns were not sectional, but global. He was an activist for the civil rights of black people in America, but he was also an activist for human rights.”
She said her father would not use “degrading” terms like “illegal aliens” and would never “pit one group against another in the struggle for justice, as Bannon attempts to use him to do”.
Bannon was White House’s chief strategist till August 2017.