Former first lady Michelle Obama jumped online Monday to congratulate her alma mater Princeton University after it stripped the name of former school president Woodrow Wilson from its renowned public affairs school.
The former first lady, who graduated Princeton in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, wrote on Twitter she was ‘heartened to see my alma mater make this change, and even prouder of the students who’ve been advocating for this kind of change on campus for years.’
‘Let’s keep finding ways to be more inclusive to all students—at Princeton and at every school across the country,’ wrote the former first lady.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama praised her alma mater Princeton University after it announced it would strip former President Woodrow Wilson’s name from its school of public affairs
Her tweet came hours after President Donald Trump came out against the change – accusing Democrats of ‘incredible stupidity’ for pushing through the change, while also slamming a move to take actor John Wayne’s name off a California airport.
Although she often steered clear of overt political activity as first lady, the former first lady campaigned for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and this year is pushing a drive to make it easier to vote and register called WhenWeAllVote.
She has explicitly called for more mail-in voting – which Trump has described as an effort rife with fraud, without providing supporting evidence.
‘Expanding access to vote-by-mail, online voter registration and early voting are critical steps for this moment – and they’re long overdue,’ she said in April.
Her husband former President Barack Obama helped Democrat Joe Biden haul in a stunning $7.7 million online during a recent fundraiser.
Michelle Obama (Michelle Robinson at the time) graduated from Princeton in 1985 (Photo courtesy of the Obama-Robinson Family Archives)
The first lady is pushing efforts to make it easier to vote, including mail-in voting. Former President Barack Obama has helped former Vice President Joe Biden raise money for his campaign
Former First Lady Michelle Obama said she was ‘heartened’ by Princeton’s decision to remove Wilson’s name
Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president, also served as president of Princeton. He racked up major progressive achievements in office, pushed for a League of Nations – and resegregated Washington, D.C.
Michelle Obama’s public move came after Trump bashed Princeton’s trustees on Monday for their decision to nix the 28th president’s name from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs amid increasing calls for historical figures’ statues and monuments to be removed.
Trump also claimed Democrats are being ‘stupid’ in pushing for actor John Wayne’s name and statue to be removed from an airport in Orange County, California.
‘Can anyone believe that Princeton just dropped the name of Woodrow Wilson from their highly respected policy center,’ the president tweeted Monday morning. ‘Now the Do Nothing Democrats want to take off the name John Wayne from an airport. Incredible stupidity!’
Both Wilson and Wayne during their lives espoused either racist, white supremacist or segregationist views.
Donald Trump bashed Princeton for dropping Woodrow Wilson from its school and Democrats for pushing for John Wayne’s name to be removed from an airport in California
Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs is dropping the late president’s name
Wilson, who was president of Princeton University before becoming president, was known to be pro-segregation
Democrats in Orange County are also pushing for the John Wayne Orange County Airport to be renamed
Democrats in the area also want the statue of the actor removed from the airport
Wilson was lauded by southern segregationist when he came to power and during his presidency was a supporter of racial segregation. Trump also recently defended the statue in front of the White House of Andrew Jackson, another Democratic president with a mixed record.
Jackson was a war hero and populist, but also oversaw brutal campaigns against Native Americans and retired to his Tennessee slave planation when he left office.
Before becoming president in 1913, Wilson served as Princeton University’s president from 1902–1910 and was governor of New Jersey for the two years in between serving as president of the Ivy League school and the United States.
Princeton’s president claimed Saturday that Wilson’s name is being dropped from the school because Wilson’s ‘racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or college.’
Democrats in Orange County, California have been pushing for a resolution to remove the likeliness of Wayne from the airport since February 2019. The effort has resurfaced amid calls from Civil Rights activists, groups and protesters for tributes to Confederate soldiers and others who owned slaves or had racist views to be taken down.
Wayne admitted to being a white supremacist in an interview with Playboy in 1971, six years before his death – and during the interview expressed derogatory views of black people, Native Americans and bashed movies for including gay characters.
Trump is pushing back against renaming Princeton’s professional school and the southern California airport.
The president said in an interview that aired Sunday evening that those who want statues of slave owners and Confederate figures removed should ‘learn from the history’ or risk ‘going to go back to it sometime.’
Calls to remove statues of Confederate figures and those connected to slavery have been mounting in recent weeks in the wake of global Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Protesters have either defaced or caused destruction on dozens of statues
But Donald Trump has urged protesters to think again – particularly black Americans who want statues of the country’s slave-owning founders removed – and claimed ‘we should learn from the history’.
Speaking to Fox News on Sunday night, the President said: ‘My message is that we have a great country, we have the greatest country on Earth.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the president tweeting the ‘white power’ video, claiming he did not hear the phrase at first and took it down when he was made aware of the comment
‘We have a heritage, we have a history and we should learn from the history, and if you don’t understand your history, you will go back to it again. You will go right back to it. You have to learn.
‘Think of it, you take away that whole era and you’re going to go back to it sometime. People won’t know about it. They’re going to forget about it. It’s okay.’
Trump has come under fire for his response to the increasing racial tension over the last few months – with some bashing him for not taking enough action to improve relations between the black community and law enforcement.
He has also faced criticism for not taking the Black Lives Matter movement seriously.
On Sunday, he reposted and later deleted a video on Twitter of senior-citizens in an age-restricted community participating in a golf-cart parade in support of the president.
He took the tweet down after facing backlash, even from those within his one party, for one of the protesters shouting ‘white power’ just eight seconds into the more than two-minute long video.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News Monday morning that he tweeted the video in order to show solidarity for his supporters.
‘So the president did not hear that phrase and that portion of the video,’ McEnany excused to the Fox & Friends panel. ‘And when it was signaled to him that this was in there, he took that tweet down.’
‘But he made very clear to me that he stands with the people of The Villages, our great seniors, men and women in the villages, who support this president. He stands for them. And his point in tweeting out that video was to stand with his supporters, who are oftentimes demonized,’ she continued.
Trump expressed Sunday that he is upset with people questioning the legacy of historical figures like George Washington just because he owned slaves.
He added: ‘You have to understand history, and our culture, and so many other aspects. But you can’t take down George Washington.’
He said that some people want to take down Lincoln, Jefferson and Ulysses S. Grant.
‘Here is the other problem that I have — a lot of these people don’t even know what they are taking down,’ he said.
Trump’s latest interview with Fox was released as he returned to the White House (pictured) following a golfing trip to Virginia Sunday – the 271st golfing trip of his presidency, according to CNN
Woodrow Wilson’s troubled history with race and segregation
Wilson was the 28th US president
Wilson served as president from 1913 to 1921, during the period following Reconstruction that is known as the nadir of American race relations.
A Democrat, he oversaw progressive policies and led the nation in World War I, as well as establishing the UN-precursor League of Nations.
His domestic agenda included the implementation of federal income tax and the creation of the Federal Reserve.
He was also the first southerner to be elected president after the Civil War, and oversaw the segregation of parts of the federal government.
While Wilson did not mandate the segregation of the entire government, he allowed Cabinet members to segregate their respective departments.
In a July 1913 letter to a civil rights activist, Wilson defended the segregation of government offices, arguing that it removed ‘friction’ between the races.
Famously during Wilson’s presidency, D. W. Griffith’s film The Birth of a Nation, which celebrated the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, was the first motion picture to be screened in the White House.
The film also quotes Wilson’s historical scholarship on the KKK, but after seeing it Wilson disavowed the movie, saying he had been ‘unaware of the character of the play before it was presented.’
JOHN WAYNE’S CONTROVERSIAL QUOTES
Marion Michael Morrison, an actor who went by John Wayne and was nicknamed The Duke, starred in movies from 1930-1976.
He came to be known as a hero in western films, an archetype that especially began to take shape four years after World War II, when Sands of Iwo Jima was released.
One of Wayne’s most popular roles was in 1954 film The High and the Mighty where he portrayed a heroic copilot.
Wayne was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Democratic President Jimmy Carter in June 1980 – about a full year after his death.
Now his legacy is in doubt because of a frank interview he gave to Playboy Magazine in 1971.
Wayne revealed in the May 1971 interview that he believes in white supremacy and claimed black people are too ‘irresponsible’ to be given power.
‘With a lot of blacks, there’s quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightfully so,’ he said in the interview. ‘But we can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks.’
Wayne also expressed a derogatory outlook towards Native Americans in the interview.
‘I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from the Indians,’ he claimed to Playboy. ‘Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.’
In that same interview with Playboy, Wayne also expressed homophobic views. He called Midnight Cowboy, a film that starred Jon Voight as a naive Texan male prostitute and Dustin Hoffman as a New York pimp, ‘a story about two f**s.’
‘I see what’s happening on television, and they are ripping down things they have no idea what they are ripping down, but they started off with the Confederates and now go to Ulysses Grant so what is that all about?’
Grant beat the Confederates and ended the Civil War before becoming president, but also married into a family that owned slaves.
Trump said he was open to the idea of erecting new statues ‘to great people; people that have done something.’
He added: ‘But you don’t want to take away our heritage and history and the beauty, in many cases, the beauty, the artistic beauty.
‘Some of the sculptures and some of this work is some of the great — you can go to France, you can go anywhere in the world and you will never see more magnificent work.
‘And that’s a factor. It’s not the biggest factor but it’s a factor.’
Protesters on Monday evening attempted to topple the statue of Andrew Jackson
Trump has made protecting statues a high-profile policy priority, repeatedly tweeting his anger at attempts to remove the monuments.
On Friday Trump signed an executive order aimed at protecting monuments and statues, making the issue a priority for the Justice Department.
‘I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials and Statues – and combating recent Criminal Violence,’ Trump announced on Twitter.
‘Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country.’
Trump has long derided efforts to bring down monuments, often calling them ‘foolish.’
‘I think many of the people that are knocking down the statues don’t even have any idea what the statue is, what it means, who it is when they knocked down,’ he said on Wednesday.
‘Now they are looking at Jesus Christ, they are looking at George Washington, they’re looking at Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson.
‘Not going to happen, not going to happen while I’m here.’
Trump boasted Sunday morning that no more statues or monuments were defaced this weekend because he signed the executive order.
‘Since imposing a very powerful 10 year prison sentence on those that Vandalize Monuments, Statues etc., with many people being arrested all over our Country, the Vandalism has completely stopped. Thank you!’ he lauded.
On Saturday he tweeted 15 ‘wanted’ posters for those involved in efforts last week to topple Andrew Jackson’s bronze likeness outside the White House.
Jackson, the seventh president, was a populist who admirers say reformed Washington DC. He is a hero of Trump’s, and Trump chose his portrait to hang in the Oval Office.
Jackson’s detractors point out that he was a slave owner who championed the ‘Trail of Tears’ policy of forcing Native Americans west of the Mississippi.
Trump boasted that his executive order imposing 10-year sentences for vandals to monuments has stopped the crimes ‘completely’
Four men have so far been charged with destruction of federal property in connection with their alleged effort to tear down the Jackson statue in Lafayette Square on June 22.
The bronze statue has stood there since 1853.
The four are Lee Michael Cantrell, 47, of Virginia; Connor Matthew Judd, 20, of Washington, D.C.; Ryan Lane, 37, of Maryland; and Graham Lloyd, 37, of Maine.
Judd was arrested on Friday and appeared in Superior Court of the District of Columbia on Saturday.
The complaint, which was unsealed Saturday, states that on June 22, the four men participated in damaging the statue alongside other protesters, while also being captured on video ‘attempting to pry the statue off its base with a wooden board and trying to pull the statue down with the aid of a yellow strap.’
It also claims there is video evidence showing ‘Lloyd as he breaks off and destroys the wheels of cannons located at the base of the statue.’
The document states: ‘Lloyd is then captured on video pulling on ropes in an effort to topple the statue and handing a hammer to an unidentified individual involved in the incident.’
Trump’s latest interview comes on his return to the White House following a golfing trip to Virginia this weekend.
The president’s motorcade was seen snaking in to the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, just outside of DC late Saturday morning.
According to CNN, the golfing expedition was the 271st of Trump’s presidency.
On Friday night, the Commander-in-chief tweeted that he would be postponing a visit to his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey amid anti-police protests that have roiled the nation’s capital.
He instead opted for the Virginia course, which is closer to his White House home, and left Sunday.
That same day, Trump was forced to deleted a post where he shared a video of senior citizens clashing over their support and opposition of him where one pro-Trump protester could be heard yelling ‘white power.’
The White House claimed the president didn’t hear the ‘white power’ comment and was instead focused on the support he was witnessing from citizens of the Florida senior community.
‘He did not hear the one statement made on the video,’ White House spokesman Judd Deere told NBC News. ‘What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters.’
Donald Trump posted a video Sunday morning – and subsequently deleted the tweet – of senior citizen supporters clashing with senior citizen counter protesters in The Village age-restricted community in Florida
The ‘white power’ comments is shouted just eight seconds into the video.
The golf-carts full of supporters paraded as the country continues in its second month of unrest as confrontations ensue between civil rights protesters and law enforcement.
The video was posted to Twitter by another user on Saturday and shows two-minutes of clashes between citizens of The Villages, a massive age-restricted community in Sumter, Florida, between pro-Trump demonstrators and senior counter protesters denouncing the president.
‘Thank you to the great people of The Villages,’ Trump posted Sunday alongside the video. ‘The Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats will Fall in the Fall. Corrupt Joe is shot. See you soon!!!’
He has now taken the post down.
Toward the beginning of the video, one senior citizen protesting for Trump yells ‘White Power,’ as he golf-cart passenger chants ‘Trump.’
‘There you go, white power. Did you hear that?’ a counter protester standing by the side of the procession responded in awe.
He deleted the tweet after outcry on social media – including from those within his own party.