Armstrong: Rev. Herb Lusk, an ex-Eagle, says conservative blacks are being intimidated by liberal ones

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Pastor Herb Lusk with former President George W. Bush years ago.

African Americans are quick to snatch somebody's black card. For the uninitiated, taking someone's black card is tantamount to kicking an offending party out of the proverbial club. It's a way of saying, "You're no longer one of us," as in, "Stacey Dash be gone."

It's usually said tongue-in-cheek, but not always, as in the case of TV talk show host Steve Harvey. Folks have been going in HARD on Harvey after he visited Trump Tower and met with the president-elect Friday.

Many black Americans - myself included - have taken umbrage at Donald Trump's meeting with a string of African American celebrities such as Kanye West, Jim Brown, Ray Lewis and now Harvey.

The Internet memes, the jokes, the criticism have been brutal. One of the worst superimposed Harvey's face on Trump's so that he's wearing a shock of blond hair. It has been so bad that the Rev. Herb H. Lusk II was compelled to do something he rarely does. The pastor of Greater Exodus Baptist Church in North Philly went on Twitter to complain.

"Conservative blacks are being intimidated by liberal blacks," he tweeted. "Why take my black card because I don't think like you? Why?"

I called Lusk, a former Eagles running back, Tuesday to see if he cared to elaborate and I got an earful.

"I read something recently where they said they were going to take Steve Harvey's black card," Lusk told me. "Steve Harvey is as black as they come. He's a good man. He's done a lot of good work. He's helped a lot of people. Because he meets with Donald Trump, he's now in danger of losing his black card.

"I think that's foolishness and I think it's unfortunate," Lusk added. "And I don't think the blacks on the left should be so intolerant of blacks who may have some right views."

Over the years, Lusk says he has been called an Uncle Tom or worse. He twice hosted visits by President George W. Bush and he also spoke at the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. Last summer, his popular church catering facility, The View, hosted a Trump meeting with local black Republicans. Lusk was vacationing in Mexico when his operations manager reached out to ask about Trump's meeting there.

"I said, 'book it,' " Lusk recalled." That's how that happened."

Lusk told me he felt compelled to speak out now because he wants to inject reason and level headedness into what has become a nasty Internet beatdown, particularly for Harvey.

"I'm not a Donald Trump supporter. I don't speak for Donald Trump. I don't know him. I've never met him," Lusk pointed out. "But he's my president and I've prayed for every president since I've been a pastor. Every day, I pray for the president of the United States of America and I will be praying for this president. The man hasn't even taken office yet. Let's see what he's going to do."

I asked Lusk who he voted for but he declined to answer, saying "I'm going to keep that private."

I left it at that. His vote is his business. I respect that. I admire him and the incredible work Greater Exodus has done in North Philly. I've been to his church on more than a few occasions and always left impressed. When it comes to politics, black people have never been monolithic anyway.

But I'll tell you this: Watching the eldest son of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. do a photo-op with Trump was jarring. Especially after the way Trump went after Congressman John Lewis (D., Ga.) on Twitter for daring to question the legitimacy of his presidency - in the same way that Trump repeatedly questioned President Obama's.

Lusk says King is doing what he thinks is best.

"I'm just hoping for sanity to settle in in our community and we'll figure out how to not be so impatient and so critical without getting all the information that we need to have before we speak. It's easy to criticize. The easiest thing to do is just tear something down," Lusk said.

"I think these men have an open mind. The president-elect of the most powerful country in the world (calls), and you get an invite to sit down and talk to him, what fool would say no?" Lusk asked. "I tell you what, if I get an invitation, I won't be turning it down."

@JeniceArmstrong

Blog: ph.ly/HeyJen

armstrj@phillynews.com

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