The first time Donald Trump ever made headlines in the New York Times was in 1973 — for a troubling reason.
The facts about Donald Trump’s history of prejudice.
From calling Mexicans criminals and rapists to retweeting white supremacists, Donald Trump has built his presidential campaign on divisive and hateful rhetoric. But his pattern of prejudice started long before he was a presidential candidate — or even a household name.
Trump has been a fixture of newspaper headlines for decades, but his front page debut in the New York Times came in 1973, when he was sued for violating the Fair Housing Act.
The Justice Department took Trump and his father to court for refusing to rent apartments to black applicants — marking their applications with a “C” for “colored” — and lying to them about whether any units were available.
Mae Wiggins was one of the prospective tenants denied an apartment because of the color of her skin. “I applied and was told by the Trump corporation that there were no vacancies,” Mae remembers. At the time, she complained to the Human Rights Commission, who investigated and determined that she had been lied to.
Unfortunately, Mae’s experience was far from an isolated incident.
As the Washington Post reported:
“Phyllis Spiro, a white woman who went undercover in 1973 at a Trump property, told investigators how a building superintendent acknowledged to her ‘that he followed a racially discriminatory rental policy at the direction of his superiors, and that there were only very few ‘colored’ tenants’ at the complex, according to court records.”
Trump handled the accusations in what would become typical Trump fashion: vehement denial and counterpunches.
Instead of settling the case, he claimed the government was trying to force him to rent to “welfare recipients” and called a news conference to announce a $100 million countersuit against the Department of Justice for defamation.
Trump’s countersuit was thrown out (the judge called it a “waste of time and paper”) and his company, Trump Management, eventually settled the civil rights suit, agreeing to a long list of anti-discrimination measures, including giving the National Urban League a weekly list of rental vacancies.
As Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who chaired the New York City Commission on Human Rights at the time puts it, “The proof [of discrimination] was so clear that the Justice Department was able to obtain a strong consent decree, which is functionally the same as being found guilty of discrimination — except you don’t have to admit discrimination.”
But just three years later, the Justice Department took Trump back to court for continuing to deny rentals based on race and steering black and Puerto Rican tenants to certain properties.
According to a New York Times report:
“While more black families were now renting in Trump-owned buildings, the government said, many had been confined to a small number of complexes. And tenants in some of these buildings had complained about the conditions, from falling plaster to rusty light fixtures to bloodstained floors.”
Trump’s troubling pattern has continued for decades — and not just in his apartment buildings:
1989: Trump took out four full-page ads in New York City newspapers, calling for the return of the death penalty in response to the “Central Park Five” — four black teenagers and one Latino teenager who were accused of attacking and raping a jogger in what has been described as a modern-day lynching.
1992: The New Jersey Casino Control Commission fined the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino for removing black dealers from the floor to accommodate the bigotry of a big-time gambler.
2000: Trump secretly bankrolled a series of offensive ads to oppose Native American gaming in New York state.
2011: Trump started perpetuating the preposterous lie that America’s first black president isn’t really a U.S. citizen.
And now, of course, there’s his presidential campaign.