A service honoring civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday was dominated by conversations about vulgar comments President Trump reportedly made about African nations last week.
Hundreds gathered at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, across the street from Trump Tower, for the interfaith service, which was about equality and unity. Upon arriving, they were given pins that said, “We shall overcome.”
The worshipers gathered not only to honor King, who was assassinated 50 years ago this year, but also to strike down tweets and remarks reportedly made by Trump during an Oval Office meeting last week.
“Dispersing water hoses of the 60s have given way to the divisive tweets of the 21st century,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.
During the White House meeting Thursday, Trump questioned the need to admit more Haitians to the U.S., along with Africans from “shithole countries,” according to people briefed on the conversation but not authorized to describe it publicly.
Trump also said in the meeting he would prefer immigrants from countries like Norway instead. The White House has not denied that Trump said the word "shithole," though Trump did push back on some depictions of the meeting.
Worshipers on Sunday called the president's remarks racist and divisive. After the service, some of them had plans to march to Trump Tower to “pray for his soul and our country in a national call to conscience.”
A crowd was gathering outside Trump Tower by 7 p.m.
Martenia Miller, who attended the service, said she wishes Trump could hear the message being spread just a block away from his eponymous building on Fifth Avenue.
“I can’t really go in and speak to him in a nice, closed off room and explain to him that he really needs to stop and think about America as a group of people who are united for one cause,” Miller said.
Worshipers say Sunday’s event is just one of several they’ll hold to try to unite people from different backgrounds.