No, Trump didn’t receive Ellis Island Medal of Honor for 'work with Black youths’

By: Prabhanu Das
July 10 2024

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No, Trump didn’t receive Ellis Island Medal of Honor for 'work with Black youths’

Screenshot of a viral X post claiming that Donald Trump received a medal from Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali for philanthropic work with African American youth. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)

Fact-Check

The Verdict False

Trump was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor alongside Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali for his contributions to business and real estate in New York.

Claim ID 8ccb2b7f

What’s the claim?

A viral post on X (formerly Twitter) features a photo of former U.S. President and Republican candidate Donald Trump with civil rights activist Rosa Parks and boxer Muhammad Ali. The post is captioned, "Trump is really lousy at trying to be a racist." Text within the photo reads, "Have you ever been so racist you got an award from Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali for contributing so much to inner-city black youths?" An archived link to the post is available here

This X post claimed that Trump was the recipient of a medal for contributions to inner-city African American youth. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, our research reveals that the photo is from the inaugural Ellis Island Medal of Honor ceremony in 1986, where Trump, Ali, and Parks were all award recipients. Furthermore, Trump was not recognized for "contributing so much to inner-city Black youths."

What did we find?

A reverse image search led to the original photo on Getty Images, taken by Yvonne Hemsey on October 27, 1986. The photo's caption indicates that it shows Joe DiMaggio, Victor Borge, Anita Bryant, Ali, Parks, and Trump posing after receiving the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. The viral image is a cropped and zoomed-in version of this photo.

A comparison of the original photo taken in 1986 and the photo accompanying the claim. (Source: Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images/X/Modified by Logically Facts)

According to the Ellis Island Honors Society website, the organization "honors the contributions made by immigrants and their descendants throughout American history." The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, presented since 1986, "celebrates inspiring Americans who are selflessly working for the betterment of our country and its citizens."

The award "commemorates the indefatigable spirit of those who immigrated to the United States during the Ellis Island era." Recipients are recognized for their "outstanding commitment to serving our nation either professionally, culturally or civically, among other criteria."

The New York Times reported on the inaugural awards days before they were presented to Trump, Parks, Ali, and 77 others. The recipients were selected by the society's founder, William Denis Fugazy. Reports indicate that Trump was chosen for his German heritage and contributions to New York business and real estate, not for helping Black youth.

Otto Coca, Communications Director at the Ellis Island Honors Society, told Reuters, "Donald Trump's Ellis Island Medal of Honor was exclusively presented in acknowledgment of his German heritage and his contributions to the City of New York as a developer, business leader, and job creator."

He further clarified, "To the best of the current administration's knowledge, EIHS has no record suggesting Donald Trump received the medal for any issues relating to race or for helping inner-city youth."

Cocca also told Logically Facts, "Trump did not get the medal for anything to do with race."

This claim and similar versions asserting that Trump received the award for race-related issues alongside Parks and Ali have circulated on social media for years and have been previously debunked by fact-checking organizations.

The verdict

Donald Trump did not receive a medal from Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali. The photo is from a 1986 award ceremony where all three were recipients. Trump was honored for his contributions to business and real estate in New York, not for any philanthropic work with African American youth.

(Update: This fact-check has been updated to reflect Otto Cocca's response to Logically Facts.)

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