Both Donald Trump and Sean Spicer seem to think Frederick Douglass is alive

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

President Donald Trump, while attending a roundtable of black leaders to commemorate Black History Month on Wednesday, appeared very unclear on who famed black orator and slavery abolitionist Frederick Douglass was.

In fact, the president's choice of present tense seemed to indicate he had only a vague understanding of what historical era Douglass lived in or what he had done: "Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job that is being recognized more and more, I noticed."

"Big impact," he added a few seconds later.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, far from reversing Trump's gaffe, steamed full speed ahead at a press conference on Wednesday.

Spicer found himself at a loss to name a single one of Douglass' accomplishments, and seemed to draw a blank on the subject of whether Douglass is still alive and accomplishing things.

"Today [Trump] made the comment about Frederick Douglass being recognized more and more, do you have any idea what specifically he was referring to?" a reporter asked Spicer.


Source: YouTube

"Well I think there was contributions," Spicer responded. "I think he wants to highlight the contributions that he has made and I think that through a lot of the actions and statements that he is going to make, I think that the contributions of Frederick Douglass will become more and more."

For the record, Douglass was well known for escaping slavery in Maryland, journeying north, and becoming one of the most famous leaders of the abolitionist movement, which sought to end the scourge of slavery across the U.S.

Douglass wrote three best-selling autobiographies of his experience as a black man in 1800s America, promoted the rights of all people regardless of race, sex or nationality, and was a brilliant speaker whose words are remembered to this day and served as a living testament to black equality.

He will contribute no future "actions and statements" to U.S. history, because he died in 1895, some 122 years ago.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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