Carson declines to back Trump's claim on being best president for African Americans since Lincoln

·3 min read

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Sunday declined to back up President Donald Trump's claim that he's done more for the African American community than any president since Abraham Lincoln, saying the debate is "not productive."

"To get into an argument about who has done the most probably is not productive, but it is good to acknowledge the things that have been done," Carson said on ABC's "This Week."

Pressed by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on Trump's claim, Carson said it's an "important thing for us to acknowledge what has happened in the past," while also touting Trump's record on criminal justice reform and funding for historically black colleges and universities.

"We should be willing to look at what we've done collectively together to make progress," he said.

MORE: Trump moves his Tulsa rally from Juneteenth to June 20 'out of respect'

Carson, the only African American cabinet secretary in the Trump administration, also praised the president's decision to move his planned Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally from Juneteenth, which is also the anniversary in Tulsa of a bloody massacre of African Americans by a white mob in 1921 -- one of the worst episodes of violence against black Americans in the country's history.

"It's probably good to have moved it," said Carson, who noted that he spoke to Trump about moving the rally and was "pleasantly surprised" by how much he knew about Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

MORE: Ben Carson injects himself into Trump's feud with Dems with Baltimore press conference

He also dismissed questions about new plans for Trump to accept the Republican Party's nomination for president in Jacksonville, Florida on the 60th anniversary of 'Axe Handle Saturday," when white men used axe handles to beat black teenagers holding a lunch counter sit-in against segregation.

"Some of our prestigious universities have a relationship with the slave trade. Should we go and rename those universities?" he said. "It really gets to a point of being ridiculous after a while, and, you know, we're going to have to grow up as a society."

This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

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