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President Trump’s State of the Union speech was disappointing, and held very little hope or promise for African Americans and other minorities.

Trump focused on only some issues, while basically ignoring those that continue to plague the black community. The only thing he said in regard to our issues was to take credit for a low black unemployment rate. This was basically started by Barack Obama, the first African-American President, before he departed the White House more than a year ago.

While the President spent a great deal of time focusing on immigration and foreign issues and building the wall, he failed to address any of the primary issues that continue to plague African Americans.

During his short time in office, America has experienced an increase in racial hatred and violence, which came to an explosive boiling point in Charlottesville, Va., where a brave and conscientious young woman with a bright future ahead of her — Heather Heyer — was killed for merely exercising her rights.

Here in New York, we experienced the bitter taste of racial hatred and bigotry when a white supremacist traveled from Baltimore to New York for the sole purpose of killing an innocent black man —Timothy Caughman — simply because of the color of his skin. During his short time in office, President Trump has said some mean and racially divisive things. This has led to an increase in racial violence across the country.

President Trump had an opportunity to speak to the unification of this great nation but failed to do so. The State of the Union was the perfect national platform to call for unity in the nation and condemn racism and discrimination. Discrimination is still a major issue in our country and the President failed to address this issue.

He also failed to address such issues as voter suppression and criminal justice reform. Police brutality and police killings of unarmed citizens of color remains a major concern for African Americans, but this was ignored by the President. Our response must be demonstrated in the voting booth on Election Day. Starting today, we must register everyone around us, and on Election Day we must show up at the polls and let our discontent be known. In addition, we cannot support any elected person or party that refuses to uphold the standards and creeds of America, nor can we support any elected official or party who refuses to denounce and root out racism wherever it rears its ugly head.

It is up to us to determine whether or not there will be a day of reckoning for those who refuse to condemn racial hatred and bigotry. We must ensure that America lives up to the creed of the Constitution: that all men and women are created equal.

This guest editorial was written by Leroy Gadsden, president of the Jamaica Branch of the NAACP

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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