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Trump: Black Activists, Thought Leaders React to Speech

NBCBLK reached out to activists, academics, elected officials and thought leaders from across the country to ask how the speech resonated.
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks on the last day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty ImagesJIM WATSON / AFP - Getty Images

Donald Trump accepted the GOP nomination for president on Thursday in a provocative, wide-ranging speech that touched on everything from the recent rash of police killings to illegal immigration and inner-city employment.

NBCBLK reached out to Black activists, academics, elected officials and thought leaders from across the country to ask how the speech resonated and here's what they had to say, in their own words and tweets.

Glynda C. Carr

Co-Founder of Higher Heights, a national civic network for Black women

According to a recent University of California study, Black women’s voices are the most likely to be overlooked in policymaking. So when Donald Trump proclaimed during his acceptance speech, `I am your voice, I am with you, I will fight for you,' we must pause and ask an important question: Will he be the voice to and fight for the issues affecting America's 23 million Black women?

Patrisse Cullors

Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter

The terrorist on our televisions tonight was Donald Trump. He pledged to fight for Americans, while threatening the vast majority of this country with imprisonment, deportation and a culture of abject fear.

His doublespeak belies his true nature: a charlatan who will embolden racists and destroy communities of color. He is a disgrace. White people of conscience must forcefully reject this hatred immediately.

Carmen Perez

Executive Director, The Gathering for Justice/Co-Founder Justice League NYC

As a national organizer, it has never been clearer to me that we need to organize, mobilize and build the power of our communities. Regardless of who is elected in November, Black and Brown bodies are still the targets of state violence. Our movements will not be silenced and we will encourage everyone to go out and vote. We will hold our next President accountable and continue to demand justice for Black & Brown communities. Our people are not monolithic, therefore, we expect all our nation's leaders to present comprehensive criminal justice reform plans.

Alicia Garza

Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter

The terrifying vision that Donald J. Trump is putting forward casts him alongside some of the worst fascists in history. Black people and our allies have unequivocally demanded a new path forward for safety in our communities, one that involves real accountability for police.

While our movement envisions a bright future where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, Trump is proposing a new, dark age where police have carte blanche authority to terrorize our communities. Whether it was Richard Nixon unleashing a war on drugs or George Wallace’s more overt war on Black people, we’ve heard it all before and won’t be fooled again.

Michael Blake

Assemblymember, NYS 79th Assembly District, Former White House aide to President Obama

As a young, black male elected official whose spirit is shaken given the last few weeks, I am appalled but not surprised by Donald Trump's remarks. Trump's words were intentional dog whistle comments of race and religion baiting, division and discrimination that are disgusting and continue his fear mongering campaign. It is clear that he is seeking to play off of racial, societal and generational fears to expand his base to try to win rather than finding ways to unite communities to help us to heal.

Kamala Harris

California attorney general, candidate for U.S. Senate

"We need more unity, not divisiveness and hateful rhetoric in our politics right now. But in his speech, Donald Trump once again attempted to pit communities against each other. Our diversity is our strength, and our unity is our power. That message will win out in 2016."

Kevin Powell

Activist, Author, Co-Founder of BK Nation

"It was the worst major party candidate acceptance speech I've ever heard. It was full of anger and venom, it was disrespectful and condescending to Black Americans, to Latino people, to women by way of his mean-spirited attacks on Hillary Clinton, and not once did Mr. Trump mention the major racial divides in this nation, nor all the Black folks killed by police the last few years. His solution for everything? Law and order."

Quentin James

Founder, The Collective PAC, African American political action committee

"Donald Trump painted a picture of an America that was unrecognizable to me. It is clear that his strategy is to pour gasoline onto our already burning racial tensions. The Democratic Party must invest heavily in turning out voters of color as I anticipate Trump winning at least 65% of the white vote this November."

Janaye Ingram

Former National Executive Director, National Action Network

Donald Trump gave a speech filled with much of the same rhetoric he has been spewing in the months leading up to his nomination. He uses fear as a tactic to promote himself as the candidate who can turn the country around. His campaign promises are vacuous statements lacking true policy foundation. What made this speech different was his attempt to reach out to communities that have been alienated or attacked by his campaign or party in the past like African Americans, members of the LGBTQ community, and Latinos.

But while he recognized the need for outreach, he still lacks the understanding of what matters most to those communities. Speaking about poverty and education as it pertains to Black people is important, but failing to realize or acknowledge the impact that criminal justice plays shows he is out of touch with the concerns shared among Blacks regardless of party affiliation.

Declaring himself the "Law and Order" candidate has a very stark and disconcerting ring to it for many members of the Black community, especially when there is no acknowledgment of the need to repair policing policies and practices in this country. He talked about protecting the LGBTQ community from "hateful foreign ideology" but not from the hateful platform and policies that his party has used to take rights away from that community. He talked about the Latino community has been impacted by poverty and joblessness, but continues to make blanket statements about how horrible illegal immigrants are. The speech left much to be desired and what remains to be seen is how his empty speech will be supported by actual policy.

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