The Rev. William Barber on Thursday condemned a claim by former White House aide Steve Bannon that Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud of President Donald Trump’s economic policies.
“Steve Bannon has built his career playing to the fears and division of white nationalism,” Barber wrote on Twitter. “But to claim that MLK would be proud of policies rooted in that agenda is a damnable lie.”
Barber, who is pastor of a church in Goldsboro, also said, “When people who whitewashed justice tried to tell Jesus that their father Abraham would be proud, Jesus said, ‘Your father isn’t Abraham, but the devil…for he is a liar and the father of lies.’”
Barber is the former head of the North Carolina NAACP and is now president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of The Poor People’s Campaign.
Barber was responding to Bannon’s remarks during an interview with the BBC that aired Wednesday in which Bannon said he believed King would be proud of Trump for reducing unemployment among black men and women and raising wages among the working class.
“If you look at the policies of Donald Trump, anybody — Martin Luther King — would be proud of him, what he's done for the black and Hispanic community for jobs,” Bannon said. “It’s the lowest unemployment in recorded history. You don't think Martin Luther King would be proud?”
King’s daughter, Bernice A. King, said on Twitter that Bannon had “co-opted my father’s name, work and words,” and that saying King would be proud of Trump “wholly ignores Daddy’s commitment to people of all races, nationalities, etc., being treated with dignity and respect.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said that in April, the unemployment rate for blacks dropped to 6.6 percent, the lowest rate since the government began tracking it in 1972.
Bannon is the former executive chairman of Breitbart News and led Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He served as the president’s senior counselor for the first seven months of his term. Trump fired him in August.