During Donald Trump’s campaign, he became the first Republican presidential nominee in years to decline an invitation to deliver a speech at the NAACP’s annual convention, using as his excuse the fact that the event coincided with the Republican National Convention.
During Wednesday’s press briefing, deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that Trump has once again declined an invitation to speak to members of the NAACP.
When asked whether or not Trump would be attending the convention, Sanders said:
‘My understanding is that the invitation has been declined for this year, but certainly the invitation for dialogue with that group would happily take place, and we would certainly like to be able to continue to do that.’
Sanders didn’t give any information about Trump’s reason for turning down the invitation.
After hearing about Trump decision to snub the NAACP for the second time, the organization’s board chairman, Leon Russell, told the press:
‘During his campaign, President Trump asked us “what do you have to lose?” We get the message loud and clear. The president’s decision today underscores the harsh fact: we have lost – we’ve lost the will of the current administration to listen to issues facing the black community.’
Russell also called Trump’s decision a “historic departure from past presidents’ engagements with the association.” President Trump’s last four predecessors — Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan — all addressed the NAACP during their presidencies. Republican nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney spoke to the NAACP as well during their respective campaigns.
At the end of his statement, Russell said that the NAACP and the people the organization serves are waiting for Trump to show that he is ready to listen to them.
‘When President Trump is ready to listen to us and the people we serve, we will be here. Until then, the NAACP will continue to strive for an America free from racism and continue to speak truth to power.’
In August of last year, a month after he declined to address the NAACP, Trump told black voters in Michigan that they should vote for him because they have nothing to lose.
‘You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?’
Since taking office in January, Trump has been criticized by groups like the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) for not doing enough for black Americans.
In a recent letter to President Trump, CBC Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-Louisiana) argued that the president’s administration is taking “steps that will affirmatively hurt black communities.” Richmond also wrote that “the CBC, and the millions of people we represent, have a lot to lose under [Trump’s] administration.”
Trump could have accepted this criticism and taken the invitation to address the NAACP as an opportunity to send a message that he does care about black Americans. Instead, he’s ducking out for the second year in a row, probably because he knows his presence would not be well received.
Featured image via Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images.