Was Donald Trump’s Father a Racist? The Revealing Truth Behind Fred Trump’s History With Racism
From border walls to travel restrictions, Donald Trump has had some issues thus far in his presidency when it comes to making folks from all walks of life feel welcome. And according to old records, he’s not the only one in his family who’s made waves. His father, who Trump allegedly looked up to all his life, has even been arrested in the past.
Now, reports claim Fred Trump had possible Ku Klux Klan involvement. But is there any truth behind these allegations? Here’s what we know about the Trump family’s past when it comes to allegations of racism.
Fred Trump was arrested during a Ku Klux Klan rally
Here’s where the troubling connection between Fred and racism began. According to Boing Boing, an article published in 1927 by The New York Times noted a man by the name of Fred Trump was arraigned during a KKK rally in Queens. And it wasn’t just a name coincidence, either, as the man also had Donald Trump’s father’s address.
During this troubling rally, roughly 1,000 klansmen and 100 policemen were involved. Seven men were arrested in total, and Fred eventually was discharged. At the time of this incidence, he would have just been 21 years old, too.
There’s no evidence that Fred Trump was an actual KKK supporter, however
The story seems pretty incriminating—but Snopes analyzes the article and explains there’s nothing directly documenting Fred as being a member of the racist community.
There’s also no evidence he was charged with race-related crimes following the incident. The charges that were filed against others who were participating in the rally were outlined within the article, but as for Fred, it simply said he was “discharged.” New York City no longer has information regarding arrests as far back as 1927, so it’s difficult to verify this information as well. But Fred could have very well just been a bystander who was accidentally swept up by police.
Donald Trump denied his father’s involvement
Fred’s arrest has been brought up to President Trump before—and he vehemently denies that his father was a Klan member. Jason Horowitz, a journalist for The New York Times, interviewed Trump for a story about his childhood home. When Horowitz asked Donald if he knew about the story involving his father’s arrest, Donald said the story was “totally false,” even noting the address in the article wasn’t correct.
“It’s unfair to mention it, to be honest, because there were no charges,” Donald says. Despite census data showing that his father did indeed live at the address stated in the 1927 article, Donald said, “I don’t even think it was him. I never even heard about it.”
Fred was also involved in a civil rights suit in the ’70s
The New York Times reports Fred Trump ran into some trouble when it came to racism and his real estate company in the ’60s and ’70s. Fred constructed homes in the Queens, New York, area, and became abundantly wealthy from his housing empire. But reports rose that the company was turning away potential tenants if they were of African American descent.
In 1973, the Justice Department sued the company for racial discrimination. At the time, Donald said the allegations were “absolutely ridiculous”— and what could have been a quiet legal battle turned into a loud, angry ordeal until a consent decree was eventually signed.
Complaints from black tenants initially brought the Trumps under scrutiny
Though the Fair Housing Act in 1968 stated there could be no racial discrimination when it came to housing, this wasn’t very well-regulated, The New York Times notes. And after Maxine Brown and Mae Wiggins, two black women, were denied housing in the Trump complex, they decided to take a stand. “We knew there was prejudice in renting,” Wiggins said, ” … and I wanted to do something to right the wrong.” Brown then filed a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights.
Following the hearing, Brown was offered an apartment—but she was the only black tenant in the place for 10 years. And it wasn’t just New York. A black couple in Cincinnati were also denied housing at one of Donald’s first housing projects he spearheaded.
Woody Guthrie even wrote a song about Fred’s racism
It turns out Fred Trump had a few famous tenants. Famous folk singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie had a lease in a Trump complex in Brooklyn in the ’50s, and through his songwriting, he suggested that African Americans weren’t welcome as tenants. Guthrie considered Fred to be someone who even profits off of racism, says Will Kaufman, a professor of American literature.
According to Kaufman, Guthrie reworked his lyrics to “I Ain’t Got No Home” to critique Fred Trump. The new lyrics stated:
Beach Haven looks like heaven
Where no black ones come to roam!
No, no, no! Old Man Trump!
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!
Donald Trump has received similar flack for his inflammatory comments
As some say: like father, like son. While Donald has called himself “the least racist person you have ever met,” racist folks like white supremacist David Duke have endorsed the president, VICE notes. And Donald’s past comments about Obama’s birthplace and his lack of strong condemnation against the KKK rallies in Charlottesville have made people wonder what his stance on racism really is.
With that said, Politico notes Donald doesn’t want Duke’s endorsement, and he’s supposedly fired staffers over racist social media content before. But even with all this, it seems the president has a lot of work to do to convince citizens he wants equal rights for all.
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