WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 21: (AFP OUT) President Donald Trump hugs Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr., as he delivers remarks after touring the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture on February 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch - Pool/Getty Images)
The announcement comes roughly a year after Trump implied that Douglass, a former slave turned social reformer and abolitionist, was still alive.
“Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice,” Trump said at a 2017 Black History Month event.
A year later, Trump is trying to get Douglass even more recognition, even though in the White House’s announcement of King’s appointment, Douglass’ name was spelled wrong among several editing errors:
“The following individual to be a Member of the of the (sic) Frederick Douglas (sic) Bicentennial Commission.”
For a president who has been accused of racism, King has been one of his few African-American allies and a constant presence and advocate.
“I do not believe President Donald John Trump is a racist. The economy’s up. Jobs are up in the black community,” she said in a January television interview about her uncle’s birthday. “There is great promise to get a lot of people who have been unfairly incarcerated out.”
“I believe Donald John Trump recognized sincerity for truth and justice for everyone and that is the basis of this appointment,” King told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I am honored that I can serve America in this capacity.”
Without being specific, King said the commission will work this year to honor and highlight the work of Douglass, who was born a slave in Maryland on Feb. 20, 1819.
Douglass escaped slavery in 1838, taught himself to read and became a gifted orator, forcefully speaking out against slavery. He wrote at least three autobiographies, championed the rights of black soldiers to fight in the Civil War, and was a confidante and friend of President Abraham Lincoln.