Shelby County Black Caucus denounces Trump over controversial comments

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On a day when hundreds gather at the National Civil Rights Museum to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his holiday, the turmoil around President Trump's alleged comments continues.

State Rep. Antonio Parkinson and Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner of the Shelby County Black Caucus of Elected Officials say those words hit a nerve.

"It's a sad day for us as Americans because I am embarrassed of the fact that the president said what he said and labeled those countries and people (bleep) hole countries. It lacks class," Parkinson said in a statement he and Turner made from the National Civil Rights Museum.

"He made disparaging comments based on color. That's racism and he is a racist for making those statements and President Trump should do the right thing and denounce the comments he's made," Turner said.

Over the weekend Trump denied making the statements attributed to him and defended himself against charges of racism.

"No, I am not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed," Trump said.

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton is standing with the president.

"I didn't hear that word either. I certainly didn't hear what senator Durbin said. senator Durbin has a history of misrepresenting what happens in White House meetings," Cotton said.

Still, it's led to ongoing debate over President Trump and racism in America on a day when the nation pauses to remember the dreamer and his dream.

"The statements he made don't represent the America I grew up in. It doesn't represents the dream Martin Luther King spoke about," Parkinson said.

"We will stand on the shoulders of Dr. King and live out his dream to bring all Americans, no matter the race, creed, religion and we all stand as Americans," Turner said.

Tom Janisch and his family have traveled from St. Louis to Memphis to visit the National Civil Rights Museum on Monday.

"I hear things from our president said that bothers me and makes me sad cause I've tried to make all of us(his family) color agnostic," Janisch said.

Stanley Williams and his family are from Memphis. He's says he doesn't let the statements bother him.

"That doesn't bother me because he's ignorant and we are staying away from that.  He's not Godlike. He's not even a factor on a day(MLK Day) like this," Williams said.

Last week President Trump is accused of calling African countries, El Salvador and Haiti "expletive" countries during an Oval Office meeting Last Thursday with a bipartisan group of six senators.