When comedian and “Family Feud” host Steve Harvey met with President Donald Trump in January and announced plans to work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and its new secretary, Ben Carson, he received major criticism from anti-Trump celebrities, including rappers T.I. and Snoop Dogg.
“I’m gonna tell all you celebrities — black, minority, all of you, athletes — there’s a strategic plan that people are trying to make you a part of. So do not accept any invitation to have any meeting no matter how positive you think the outcome may be,” said T.I. in a series of videos posted to his social media accounts.
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Dogg also released a curse-filled video criticizing any black artist who dared to meet with the president or work with Trump on future endeavors.
Despite the backlash — Harvey said in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he is continuing to work with HUD.
“I’ve been to HUD twice,” he said. “I’ve met with Dr. Carson, and we’re actually trying to get it started. We’ve had meetings, and now we’re just waiting on the final notes. We have several teams in place. [I hope] before the year goes out, we’ll be making the announcement about the first vision center.”
“I’ve met with Dr. Carson, and we’re actually trying to get it started.”
The “vision centers” are meant as buildings at which children in areas such as New York City can learn computer programming skills and other talents they may not gain elsewhere.
Harvey said he told the president in January he wanted to help his administration, although he campaigned for Democrat Hillary Clinton during the election.
“He wants to know how, so I say, ‘You’ve appointed Ben Carson as the head of Housing and Urban Development, and I’ve got keys to a lot of cities around this country from the years of performing that I’ve done. I can get an ear to them really quick and find out what their real needs are,” said Harvey. “‘Y’all keep closing schools in the cities. Why don’t we take those schools that are closing, put some HUD money in them, and reopen them as vision centers and teach STEM and computers and coding? If you connect me with Ben Carson, I can help him with that.’ A few minutes later, he [President Trump] had Ben Carson on the phone.”
Of the backlash he has received, Harvey said he was surprised by it — but it did not deter him from wanting to do good work.
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“I was being called names that I’ve never been called: Uncle Tom. A coon. A sellout. Because I went to see this man?”