Florida International University President Mark B. Rosenberg opened his school’s 27th Martin Luther King Commemorative Breakfast by blasting comments made by President Trump, saying he is “disgusted by the senseless words coming from our senior-most leader.”
The Washington Post reported that on Thursday, during talks in the White House with legislators about protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries, Trump said: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), one of the lawmakers who attended the meeting, said on Friday that Trump did say that as well as other “things that were hate-filled, vile and racist.”
Florida International University is Miami’s only public research university, with a predominantly Hispanic student body of nearly 54,000.
Rosenberg opened the breakfast saying that Trump’s remarks had prompted him to change the start of his speech. He said:
“Yesterday, Washington hit a low point with respect to our neighbors and friends, including those from Haiti and El Salvador. We regret this. That is not how we think. This is not who we are. This is not who we aspire to be. I, personally, am disgusted by the senseless words coming from our senior-most leader. Our diverse international community is at the core of who we are, the core of our institutional and our community’s ethos.
“At our FIU, we have a tradition of diversity. International is our middle name. We embrace people. We embrace ideas. We embrace traditions from all over the world. They make us stronger. They make us better. They align us more with Dr. King; who we trust, who guides us. Today and every day, indeed we have an opportunity to honor his legacy and his memory. Dr. King is a great American. He stood up against ignorance. He stood up against disrespect. He stood against racism. And let each of us draw strength from that and be beacons of light and inclusion in our community, our nation and the world. We have to speak up when nasty things happen like yesterday — unacceptable — in terms of who we are and who we aspire to be.
“Today, as many of you know, also marks the eighth anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti and forever changed the lives of so many of our friends and our neighbors. So if we could just take a moment of silence for the thousands of lives that were lost that January afternoon and the days that followed.”