At First African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Los Angeles on Sunday morning, Senior Minister J. Edgar Boyd was met with murmurs of disapproval when he urged his mostly African American congregation to pray for the president of the United States.
When Boyd asked God to hold Trump accountable for “his words, his deeds and his actions,” the disapproval turned to applause.
Another pastor, Rev. Charolyn Jones, offered inspiration from the Jews who were held captive in Babylon and followed God’s advice to build houses, grow food and raise families.
When people are “constantly subjected to racist, vile, offensive and divisive” remarks by a leader they may not have voted for, they should continue to hope and look to the future, whether by speaking out against racism or by running for public office, Jones said.
After the 10 a.m. service, church members said Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday will be celebrated Monday as a federal holiday, would be disappointed, even horrified, to hear what Trump allegedly said recently about immigrants from Africa and Haiti.
During a White House meeting with lawmakers last week, Trump asked why the United States would accept immigrants from "shithole countries" in Africa and the Caribbean and said the U.S. needed more people from places like Norway, according to two people briefed on the meeting.
“The fact that he’d say something like that then turn around and talk about commemorating Martin Luther King is really hypocritical,” said Archie Shackles, 65, of Trump.
Shackles grew up in Texas during segregation and recalls having to step off the sidewalk to let white people go by.
Trump, he said, wants to put African Americans in an even lower place than that.
“He’d love to take us back all the way to slavery,” said Shackles, a librarian and member of the church choir.
Shackles said those who oppose Trump should try to remove him from office and mobilize voters in elections down to the local level.
Reggie Lee, a fashion designer, said Trump has made African Americans feel they are not equal to whites.
King “worked so hard to make people feel equal,” said Lee, 55. “Now, I feel my race puts me in a category where my self-esteem has been tainted.”
Karen Jordan, a retired probation officer, remembers seeing television footage of civil rights activists being attacked by police dogs when she was a girl.
Trump’s remarks last week “represent how he really thinks about African Americans and people of color,” Jordan said. “He has no filter. It’s terrible. He doesn’t represent the U.S. as it was established to be.”
But Jordan’s friend, Adrienne Parker, said she took heart from Sunday’s sermons.