DETROIT — Donald Trump made a rare direct appeal to African-Americans on Saturday, visiting a predominantly black church in Detroit amid efforts to improve his standing among minority voters, who polls show overwhelmingly favor Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The brief visit marked one of the few times that Trump has campaigned in a heavily African-American area. Although his recent speeches have included more outreach to black voters than in the past, Trump has mostly delivered his remarks before heavily white audiences in predominantly white neighborhoods.
Speaking at Great Faith Ministries International on Saturday, Trump read from prepared remarks, saying that “for centuries the African-American church has been the conscience of our country.”
“I fully understand that the African-American community has suffered from discrimination,” Trump said, adding that there were “many wrongs” that still needed to be “made right.”
Trump, who has argued that black voters have nothing to lose by supporting him – a line that has been widely criticized by Democrats – also vowed to improve economic conditions across the country.
Bishop Wayne Jackson, who introduced Trump on Saturday, said Great Faith Ministries International was the first black church the Republican nominee had visited.
“This is the first African-American church he’s been in, y’all! Now it’s a little different from a Presbyterian church!” Jackson said.
Trump, who did an interview with Jackson before his speech, said he was “here today to learn so that we can together remedy injustice in any form.” The interview will be broadcast at a later date.
Trump said that the nation is “divided” and that “those who seek office do not do enough to step into the community and learn what’s going on.”
Afterward, Trump accompanied Ben Carson, a former presidential rival turned supporter, on a visit to his childhood home in southwest Detroit. The business executive viewed the outside of Carson’s home, according to a pool report of the event, which was not opened up to a broad press corps.
Trump and Carson spoke briefly with Felicia Reese, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1992, according to the pool report.
Trump asked Reese: “It’s been a good house?” He joked that since Carson grew up there, the location was famous.
“This house is worth a lot of money!” he said, according to the pool report.
Video of Trump’s visit to black Detroit church:
Video: What Detroit’s black pastors want Trump to know