President Donald Trump told Fox & Friends co-host, Brian Kilmeade, during a Sunday night special, his message to African Americans is “you have to learn” about “your history.”
According to Salon, Trump made the comment when asked about African Americans demanding the removal of monuments honoring slave owners.
“You have to learn” about your history. If you don’t understand your history,” Trump told Kilmeade, “you will go back to it again.”
Kilmeade then pointed to leaders who owned slaves such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson before asking Trump, “So how do we grow as a country and yet not forget our past?”
“You have to understand history, and you have to understand the culture,” Trump responded.
Trump added it would be foolish to remove statues of George Washington, because “half of our country is named after Washington.”
“We have to remember the heritage and the culture of our country,” he continued. “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?”
Trump signed an executive order Friday directing federal law enforcement agencies to prosecute people who damage federal monuments, and to withhold portions of federal funding to cities that don’t protect statues from demonstrators.
Kilmeade continued the discussion asking what Trump’s message is for African Americans whose ancestors were enslaved. Trump responded suggesting slavery could reoccur if monuments to slave-owners were removed.
“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,” Trump told Kilmeade. “Now, what I do like? I like the idea of building new statues to people—to great people. People that have done something. And I think that’s OK.”
Protesters across the country have been pulling down or destroying statues of Confederate soldiers including Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee as well as Christopher Columbus. The moves prompted Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to remove Confederate general Robert E. Lee statute from Richmond’s Monument Avenue.