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Detroit News reporter Chad Livengood interviews Presidential candiate Donald Trump moments after an appearance by the candidate at the Greater Faith Ministries Church in Detroit on Saturday September 3, 2016. Max Ortiz, The Detroit News

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump praised the black church Saturday at the Greater Faith Ministries International as he made his first direct appeal to African-American voters.

“I will always support your church always and defend your right to worship,said Trump, who was introduced by Bishop Wayne T. Jackson to polite applause.

Standing at the front of the church holding a cordless microphone, he noted that it was from black churches “all across this land that the civil rights movement lifted up its soul and lifted up our nation. It’s from these pews that our nation has been inspired.”

The New York businessman emphasized issues such as fighting for good-paying jobs, expanded school choice and a civil rights agenda in his first campaign appearance before a predominantly black audience. In recent weeks, he has appealed to African-Americans for their votes, but before mostly white audiences, including one in the Lansing area on Aug. 20 where he asked: “What the hell do you have to lose?”

He acknowledged the discrimination African-Americans still face in the country and pledged to work to heal it.

“We’re all brothers and sisters,” he said in measured tones, reading from notes during almost 10 minutes of remarks. “...We must love each other and support each other, and we are all in this together.”

“Our nation is too divided. We talk past each other, not to each other. And those who seek office do not do enough to step into the community and learn what’s going on.”

Throughout the campaign, Trump has promised to bring back jobs. Although he has decried social problems like poverty in Detroit, he vowed Saturday to help revive the Motor City.

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“I want to help you build and rebuild Detroit,” he said, “and we can do it that, especially with people like Bishop and Dr. Jackson. I mean that.”

Trump said he was there “to learn so that we can together remedy injustice in any form. and so that we can also remedy economics, and so that the African-American community can benefit ... through jobs and income.”

“I am here to listen to you, and I’m doing that,” he said.

The real estate developer noted that he had seen people sitting on the street and the lack of economic inactivity in the surrounding neighborhood when he came to the church.

Trump said the United States is sidelining “young black men with tremendous potential, adding that “Our entire country misses out when we are unable to harness the potential and energy of these folks.”

But in typical fashion, he promised to solve the situation.

“We’re going to turn it around. We’re going to turn it around, pastor,” Trump said to Bishop Jackson.

The businessman outlined a broad agenda for civil rights.

“I believe we need a civil rights agenda for our time, one that ensures the right to a great education ... and the right to live in safety and in peace, and to have a really, really great job, a good-paying job, and one that you love to go to every morning. And that can happen,” Trump said.

“It also means the right to have a government that protects our workers and fights, really fights for our jobs. I want to help you build and rebuild Detroit, and that can happen.”

He also introduced and hugged Dr. Ben Carson, the native Detroiter and retired neurosurgeon who ran against him in the Republican presidential primaries and now is an adviser.

After the service, Carson took Trump on a short tour of his southwest Detroit neighborhood that included his childhood home, a bungalow on Deacon Street. They briefly spoke with the homeowner, Felicia Reese.

While in the church after the service, Trump shook hands with the audience and took selfies with congregants and youngsters. He even picked up a baby for a photo opportunity.

Trump sat in service with Omarosa Manigault, a villain from his “The Apprentice” reality television series whom he fired three times and his director of African-American outreach. At one point during the service, the businessman swayed to the gospel music with Omarosa, who was seated next to him.

The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attacked the Trump appearance as a sham.

“Donald Trump’s visit to Detroit is tantamount to a wolf visiting a sheep farm to lead a discussion on Let Me Be Your Leader To Greener Pastures,” said the Rev. . Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit chapter of the NAACP, in a statement released by the Clinton campaign.

“He is talking over, around and through black people but not to black people. He should apologize, repent, re-align and retreat from his divisive non-presidential behavior.”

Trump confirmed that he was interviewed privately by Jackson before the service. The interview caused controversy when the New York Times reported Thursday that the candidate received the questions ahead of time and his campaign was going to be allowed to edit the final transcript of the interview.

Jackson said in a Friday CNN interview he was changing the questions but that he didn’t know anything about letting the Trump campaign edit the transcript -- something he said wouldn’t happen. The interview is set to air Thursday on Jackson’s Impact Network.

The interview and the church service were “an amazing experience,” Trump said.

“I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into,” he said.

Jackson introduced Trump and told his congregation that “This is the first African-American church he’s been in, y’all. Now it’s a little different from a Presbyterian church.”

Trump laughed at the line, according to a pool reporter who saw him on a television monitor.

The businessman prefaced his remarks by saying: “I just wrote this the other day, knowing I'd be here, and I mean it from the heart, and I'd like to just read it and I think maybe you’ll understand it better than I do.”

Jackson ended the service by putting a Jewish prayer shawl around the shoulders of Trump, telling the candidate it would help him with any adversity that he would face on the campaign trail.

clivengood@detroitnews.com

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