Speaking at a Martin Luther King Day ceremony in Jerusalem on Monday, the Haitian-born spiritual leader of a Brooklyn church demanded an apology from U.S. President Donald Trump for his recent racist and disparaging alleged comment about Haiti, calling it a dagger to the heart.
Pastor Mullery Jean-Pierre, of Berraca Baptist Church, made the demand in front of 216 predominately Caribbean-American members of Brooklyn congregations, gathered to honor the slain civil rights leader during their week-long pilgrimage to Israel. He used the opportunity to speak truth to power and called on all Jews and Israelis to join him in seeking an apology.
It was on the third day of the trip, Jean-Pierre recounted, that news broke about Trumps alleged remarks, in which he reportedly described immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa as coming from shithole countries.
I am calling on all Haitians, Africans, African-Americans and people of African descent, white American evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump and helped him into office, along with all Jews and Israelis – who I believe should stand by Haiti because Haiti stood by the Jewish nation of Israel by casting the deciding UN vote in 1947 and helped them become the great nation they are today: Please stand with Haiti, Africa and El Salvador, and demand that President Trump apologize for his remarks, he said.
Jean-Pierre, whose multicultural but predominantly Haitian-American church has 1,200 members, was one of a group of four church leaders (comprising the Brooklyn United Churches group) who led their congregations on a week-long tour of Israel, culminating in Jerusalem on Martin Luther King Day.
Another of the ministers, Pastor Gilford Monrose – spiritual leader of Mt. Zion Church of God (7th Day) – opened the ceremony and led the group in prayer in memory of King and other civil rights leaders. We thank you, father, for Martin Luther King. … We are his children, white and black, Jewish and gentile. We are all part of the legacy he stood for, he said.
Telling the group to join hands, Monrose said that even in the current difficult political climate, it was vital to remember Kings message that We dont walk this path alone, and weve got to still do right even when others do wrong. We have to be light in the darkness, we have to be love in the midst of hate, we have to give voice to the voiceless.
We hold hands and bow our head in silence, as we remember Martin Luther King Jr., he continued. Thank you, dear God, for him and for those who stood up so we could stand up. For those who sat down so we could sit down. Thank you for those who protested so we could have rights. Thank you for those who put their lives on the line, and many who gave their lives. Thank you, God, for the blood, sweat and the tears of our fathers and mothers, our sisters and brothers who are long in the grave but whose contribution to the common good continues to live on.
Jean-Pierre told Haaretz he was left speechless when he learned what Trump had allegedly said to describe the country he and most of his congregants had immigrated from. I felt Trump had hit an all-time low and couldnt believe he had stooped to this level. It was a like a dagger in my heart, he said.
His challenge as a leader of the Haitian-American community, he said, was to help his angry congregants not lose faith in their country just because they have lost faith in this president.
SOURCE: Allison Kaplan Sommer