Steve Bannon said that Martin Luther King Jr. “would be proud” of Donald Trump. Umm, what?

In predictable, reality-bending fashion, Trump’s former strategist and adviser Steve Bannon made a bold claim about how King would feel about Trump’s performance thus far in his presidency. Speaking to BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis, he said, “If you look at the policies of Donald Trump, anybody ... Martin Luther King would be proud of him, of what he’s done for the black and Hispanic community for jobs.”

Maitlis clarified — somehow with a straight face — “You think Martin Luther King would be proud of Donald Trump as president?”


Bafflingly, Bannon charged straight ahead:

“You don’t think Martin Luther King would be proud? Look at the unemployment we had in the black community five years ago. You don’t think Martin Luther King would sit there and go ‘Yes, you’re putting young black men and women to work. There’s the lowest unemployment we’ve had in history. And wages are starting to rise among the working class. And you’ve finally stopped the illegal alien labor forces coming in and competing with them every day, and destroying the schools and destroying the healthcare.’ Absolutely.”

Mmm 'kay.

Before we get to what King’s daughter had to say about that, let’s quickly review those unemployment numbers.

Indeed, the black unemployment rate is the lowest it’s ever been. But that rate has been dropping steadily since the middle of Obama’s term as president. Bannon specifies the change in the rate from five years ago, but neglects to acknowledge that the vast majority of that drop happened under Obama.

Here's the government's own Bureau of Labor Statistics chart for black unemployment since 2008:

[rebelmouse-image 19533368 dam="1" original_size="600x300" caption="Black unemployment rate in the U.S. Graph via Bureau of Labor Statistics." expand=1]Black unemployment rate in the U.S. Graph via Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The same goes for Hispanic unemployment. Yes, it's the lowest it's been in 25 years, but it's also been steadily dropping since 2011:

[rebelmouse-image 19533369 dam="1" original_size="600x300" caption="Hispanic or Latino unemployment rate in the U.S. Graph via Bureau of Labor Statistics." expand=1]Hispanic or Latino unemployment rate in the U.S. Graph via Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Trump’s policies have not created some kind of dramatic turnaround in unemployment — the trend is simply continuing. There have been no miracles performed here, unless you consider riding on someone’s economic coattails a miracle.

Now, on to King's response.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter Bernice shut Bannon down — real quick.

Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s youngest child, reacted to Bannon's interview, and let's just say she's not having it.

Bernice King shared this image on Twitter the morning after Bannon's interview. I imagine that's exactly the face she made when she saw it. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

"#SteveBannon has dangerously and erroneously co-opted my father's name, work and words," King wrote on Twitter. "Bannon's assertion that my father, #MLK would be proud of Donald Trump wholly ignores Daddy's commitment to people of all races, nationalities, etc. being treated with dignity and respect."

She then explained how her "father's concerns were not sectional, but global."

[rebelmouse-image 19533371 dam="1" original_size="792x470" caption="Screenshot via Bernice King/Twitter." expand=1]Screenshot via Bernice King/Twitter.

Setting the record straight on what her father actually would and wouldn't do, King wrote, "Further, he would not refer to people as 'illegal aliens.' The term is degrading and does not reflect his belief that we are all a part of the human family." She added that he'd never pit one group against another.

[rebelmouse-image 19533372 dam="1" original_size="782x356" caption="Screenshot via Bernice King/Twitter." expand=1]Screenshot via Bernice King/Twitter.

But she wasn't done. She called Bannon's comments "empty calories," and explained how her father would be "extremely disturbed" by the current political climate that emboldens people to "easily express and demonstrate cruelty, predominantly toward people of color and immigrants."

[rebelmouse-image 19533373 dam="1" original_size="790x374" caption="Screenshot via Bernice King/Twitter." expand=1]Screenshot via Bernice King/Twitter.

King capped off her commentary with how her father would actually view those unemployment numbers:

[rebelmouse-image 19533374 dam="1" original_size="782x156" caption="Screenshot via Bernice King/Twitter." expand=1]Screenshot via Bernice King/Twitter.

Well, there you have it, Mr. Bannon.

People of all political stripes try to mold Martin Luther King Jr. to fit their agenda. It's a problem.

While usually more subtle and less blatantly ridiculous than Bannon's assertions, people often choose small pieces of King's message to suit their narrative. But such simplification dishonors the man and his accomplishments. At the core, King was a radical humanitarian. He championed not only the black American, but the poor person, the immigrant, and every human being experiencing oppression and injustice.

Thank goodness for Bernice King's perspective in the age of cherry-picking MLK quotes and whitewashing his legacy. We need to keep defending truth and shut down those who try to bend reality to justify prejudice and fear-mongering.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Ronny Tertnes' "liquid sculptures" are otherworldly.

Human beings have sculpted artwork out of all kinds of materials throughout history, from clay to concrete to bronze. Some sculpt with water in the form of ice, but what if you could create sculptures with small drops of liquid?

Norwegian artist Ronny Tertnes does just that. His "liquid sculptures" look like something from another planet or another dimension, while at the same time are entirely recognizable as water droplets.

I mean, check this out:


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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

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