Gregory Cheadle didn't cringe in 2016 when then-candidate Donald Trump called him "my African American" at a rally in Northern California. But the 62-year-old is now backing away from not only President Trump, but the entire Republican party, too—which is why he's defecting from the GOP and making a run for a seat in Congress as an independent. Cheadle was never a full-fledged Trump fan: Shortly after the "my African American" comment, he said he was part of the GOP but not necessarily a Trump supporter, though he went to the rally with an "open mind." Now, however, he tells PBS Newshour that Trump is "a rich guy who is mired in white privilege to the extreme," the Republican Party with its "pro-white agenda" has been using black party members like him as "political pawns," and fellow Republicans won't call Trump out.
The last straw for Cheadle: when GOPers basically ignored Trump's recent attacks against people of color, such as Rep. Elijah Cummings and Democratic congresswomen. Cheadle is also irked that the vast majority of judicial nominees from Trump—whom he doesn't call "racist," but of having a "white superiority complex"—have been white. Cheadle says he stuck around so long because he'd hoped in vain the GOP would address income disparity and health care for the black community. "I just hope this is a wake-up call for the GOP," he tells the Washington Post. "[The party] is going to be in the Smithsonian the way they're going." When asked by PBS about Cheadle's remarks, Trump said he couldn't recall him and that "we've had the best numbers we've ever had for African Americans in terms of employment and unemployment. So I think we're going to do very well." (Read more African Americans stories.)