Trump Denied Access to the Apollo Theater

Trump Denied Access to the Apollo Theater October 13, 2016

CC. Darya Mead
CC. Darya Mead

Trump’s not having his rally at the Apollo.

Organizers for the beleaguered Trump campaign have been trying in vain to book Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater for a rally.

Just, no. Its not going to happen.

“They don’t want him there,” says one insider familiar with The Donald’s dealings with the 102-year-old concert hall, which became the Apollo in 1934.

Why should they? Trump’s message to Black voters is bleak and depressing. That ain’t the Apollo. According to the candidate, Black lives are crime filled, their schools below average, and they can’t walk down their dimly lit streets to buy their drugs without getting jacked by illegal immigrants.

In the first Presidential debate he stated:

“African Americans and Hispanics are living in hell. You walk down the street and you get shot.”’ Trump also warned of “gangs roaming the streets” and said “African American communities are being decimated by crime.”

This sounds like the same gangland imagery he tried to paint with the Central Park 5, when he spent $85,000 in advertising, suggesting New York “Bring back the death penalty!” to deal with imaginary marauding youth. The five were coerced into confessions, then would later be acquitted of the rape and murder of the of 28 year old investment banker, Trisha Meili, but Trump still denies their innocence.

He espouses racially charged and false statistics that even Bill O’Reilly must challenge:

“When you tweet out a thing, and this bothered me, I got to tell you. You tweeted out that whites killed by blacks, these are statistics you picked up form somewhere, at a rate of 81 percent — and that’s totally wrong,” O’Reilly told Trump. “Whites killed by blacks 15 percent. Yet you tweeted it was 81 percent.”

Wtf? And…

“Crime at levels that nobody’s seen. You can go to war zones in countries that we’re fighting, and it’s safer than living in some of our inner cities. They’re run by the Democrats. To the African Americans, who I employ so many, so many people, to the Hispanics, tremendous people, what the hell do you have to lose?”

He says crime’s up (which it’s not) and the Democratic Party only comes around asking for their votes like that friend you know will never pay you back, then dodges you on payday.  Yet, somehow Trump’s got answers to the questions he’s not even asking.

In all seriousness, part of that message I think hits home. Had the Billionaire stayed on a message crafted on hope, he might’ve swayed a percentage or two away from Hillary, though Black voters traditionally vote Blue. However, he missed that mark.

The Apollo is a symbol of hope and aspirational success for Black America. That’s what you need in Harlem. The 102 year old former Whites Only Burlesque Theater was only reopened to Black crowds in 1934 to focus on African American entertainment.  It was legally segregated prior. It’s hosted some of the most prominent names in Black entertainment including:

  • Michael Jackson
  • James Brown
  • Mariah Carey

And launched the careers of others like:

  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • The Supremes
  • Jimi Hendrix (amongst countless others).

Harlem itself is the symbol of the Black Renaissance, where movements of hope or revolution were birthed, nurtured, or cultured. It sits blocks away from Marcus Garvey, on MLK between Adam Clayton Powell and Fredrick Douglas. Its really Black. Netflix’ Luke Cage, potentially the ‘Blackest’ series on TV not depicting the Civil Rights or Slavery, was set in Harlem in the shadow of the Apollo.

So given his comments, he might not be welcomed there in the way he’d wished.

Perhaps he thinks it might change his luck like it did Luther, Lauryn, or Chappelle, who all bombed horrifically initially. They all learned a little humility, how to adapt, and how to be more resilient. That’s one of the Apollo’s gifts. Reconstruction. You might get torn down, but sometimes you become better or you’re dealt a singularly clarifying blow of reality, that… maybe this ain’t for you.

I don’t know if its too late for Donald. All indications show he has no facility for such lessons, which alone should preclude him from speaking there. And since I don’t believe in hallowed grounds, I won’t call it sacrilege. But that’s not the right venue. What promise does he bring us in general? What is his vision of Black Americans’ better tomorrow? How about revitalizing Harlem without gentrification?

What more his promise than “what more could you lose?”


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