Faulkner: As we reported during Fox Report this hour, Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis questioned the legitimacy of President-elect Donald Trump. But according to my next guest, the Congressman and other black lawmakers should be encouraging their constituents to give the President-elect a chance. Joining me now is Reverend William Owens for tonight’s Fox Report interview, and he is the founder and President of the Coalition of African-American Pastors. Sir, thanks a lot for joining us.
Owens: Thank you for having me.
Faulkner: I want to start with the news of the day about Lewis being a prominent member of Congress saying that he will not attend the inauguration this week. You disagree with the posturing by Mr. Lewis. Why?
Owens: Absolutely disagree. I marched with Mr. Lewis in Nashville Tennessee. We all marched together. We fought together. But Mr. Lewis I think at this point is on the wrong side of history. Mr. Trump was elected legally. He is the President of the United States, or the President-elect. And I think what they’re looking at is a way to find out why Hillary was not elected. She was not elected not because of what the Russians did, she was not elected because of what she said. One great thing Mrs. Clinton said was we had to change our religious beliefs. We’re not going to change our religious beliefs, for a political party, not a leader. And that was a grave mistake. And millions of people heard her loud and clear. She overreached. What Mr. Obama started, she was going to finish. But she did not know that there were millions of people, Christians, blacks, who voted against her, or voted for Trump because of that. She cannot tell us about our religious beliefs. She does not have that right.
Faulkner: You know, I’m listening to you, and I know that you were at the National Press Club yesterday in Washington, D.C., and you said some of what you just said now, but it was an announcement that you wanted to make. And you wanted particularly black lawmakers, like Mr. Lewis, and others who are now saying that they will not attend the inauguration on Friday, and clergymen and -women in black Churches across America to hear a singular, I should say a single message. What is it?
Owens: The single message is we should respect the law. Give Mr. Trump a chance. If blacks in America have problems, you can’t look to Mr. Trump because of those problems. Look at the prior Administrations. I was shocked last December, when I learned that President Johnson started the war on poverty to get blacks to be dependent on the government. I didn’t know it. He was one of my heroes. I praised him for what he did about the Voter Rights Act, and all of the things he said. But I was speaking to an historian, and I said, you know Mr. Johnson had good intentions, but he had unexpected consequences. He said, “Bill, you have it all wrong. Mr. Johnson intended to do what he did”, and gave me the research. And when I researched and found, that he did that to get black women on welfare, they had 100,000 federal workers to go throughout the country to get black women on welfare, and get the father out of the home, it destroyed the black community. And I don’t like it, because my community has been destroyed, because of votes. And the same thing is still going on. During that time, I said, if we could just get a black mayor, if we could get a black Congressman, things would be better. We have more black politicians now than you can think of. Look at our conditions today. Look at education. Look at our young people. Look at our prisons. Why?
Faulkner: So, what is the answer? I mean, I hear you saying this, and I, look at Baltimore as an example when you talk about those black leaders, and how many African-Americans have held office, and been there. And then we had the riot situation in Baltimore. And things falling apart with the police department there. So I understand your argument, but what is the answer moving forward?
Owens: I think I can tell you some of the answer. I can tell you what I did. I don’t mean to brag, but in four years, I put 400 students at a major university in this country—students that otherwise could not have gone to college. And we called it Give Me A Chance Ministry. And that was a reason what Mr. Trump said “Give me a chance” resonated with me so ...
Owens: ... We put those 400 students in college, and had a 75% graduation rate, and 90% of them would not have been able to go to any college. We gave them hope, and the university gave them a chance.
Faulkner: What is the response from leaders in the black community? have you talked with Congressman Lewis? what is the response?
Owens: No I have not talked with Congressman Lewis, I would love to, I just uh ...
Faulkner: Reverend Al Sharpton?
Owens: ... My PR person just the other day reached out to Rev. Sharpton, and asked him if we could have dialogue, I respect him very much, I respect his views, and I want him to respect my views, I think we should dialogue. Much is at stake in the black community. It’s too, too much at stake for us to play with the lives of our children, the born and the unborn. It is too much at stake for us to pimp the community ...
Owens: ... And I want to have dialogue with Mr. Lewis, Mr. Sharpton, and other black leaders. And I’ll show you my facts, show me yours.
Faulkner: That’s a strong word you just used about what some of them may be doing with their constituents; last question for you: No doubt you saw the video of the thousands of people who were marching anti-Trump, if you will, alongside Rev. Sharpton; your quick last thought.
Owens: My quick last thought is people will follow. They want something to do, but they don’t really think. I know some people that lean to a certain party, and they can’t tell me why, so why do you stand for this party? what are the facts? They don’t know. They listen to leaders, and that’s a reason I hold Mr. Lewis and Rev. Sharpton to a high standard ...
Faulkner: Have you met Mr. Trump?
Owens: ... You have a high responsibility to be responsible for the things that you say and the things that you do in this society, because people will follow you.
Faulkner: Have you met Mr. Trump?
Owens: Oh yes, three times.
Faulkner: Alright, so you have talked with him. Sir, I appreciate your time tonight. I saw on social media a hot fire when I put out that you were going to be on the program, you have a lot of people watching and listening to your leadership tonight, we appreciate you coming on with your perspective. Reverend Owens, thank you.