By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congressional Black Caucus leaders met with President Donald Trump on infrastructure and urban crime reduction on Wednesday, calling the meeting a “positive” first step in finding common ground.
Lawmakers presented Trump with a 130-page policy proposal titled “We Have Much to Lose: Solutions to Promote Black Families in the 21st Century,” a reference to Trump’s repeated election campaign query asking what they have to do. lose the blacks by supporting him.
“We believe this is a positive first start and we are going to continue the dialogue,” Rep. Karen Bass, a Democrat from California, told reporters after the meeting.
Trump has vowed to improve the lives of African Americans, who largely voted for his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, in the 2016 presidential election.
Many black leaders have criticized his depiction of urban areas as crime-ridden war zones and his false claims that America’s first black president, Barack Obama, may not have been born in the United States. Trump later admitted that he believes Obama was born in the United States.
At the start of the meeting, Trump said he was taking his promise to help African Americans seriously.
“Every American child has the right to grow up in a safe community, to attend great schools, to graduate with access to well-paying jobs,” Trump said during the reporters’ part of the meeting.
Since taking office, Trump has held a listening session with some of his black supporters and has signed an executive order that seeks to boost government support for historically black universities.
Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana, said that while lawmakers share many of the same goals as Trump, they often disagree with him on how to achieve those goals.
Lawmakers said the meeting was not “concise” but did not shy away from addressing controversial issues.
“There were a lot of people in my family, a lot of people in the caucus, and a lot of people in the churches that suggested that we not take the meeting with President Trump because of the rhetoric,” Richmond said. “We express that to him, because we are certainly very clear about the emotions of African Americans across the country.”
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