Trump’s legacy on race will be defined by his divisive rhetoric

CHICAGO — President Donald Trump repeatedly claimed in the final months of his presidency — and without a trace of irony — to have done more for Black Americans than anyone with the “possible exception” of Abraham Lincoln.

He boasted that the African American unemployment rate dropped to record lows under his watch before the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the economy. Trump heralded his administration’s criminal justice overhaul for shortening mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses and leading to the release of thousands of incarcerated people, mostly Black Americans. Trump also relished that he increased funding for historically black colleges and universities.

But in the end, historians say Trump’s legacy — and his electoral undoing — will be largely shaped by rhetoric aimed at stirring significant swaths of his white base that tugged at the long-frayed strands of race relations in America.

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