Updated: The self-appointed leader of “Blacks for Trump,” who stood directly behind the candidate at a campaign rally in Florida on Tuesday, is a former member of a violent religious cult and a radical preacher with extreme anti-Semitic and homophobic beliefs.
The man, pictured throughout the rally behind Trump’s left shoulder, was seen on television exchanging thumb-up gestures with the candidate, who paused to say: “I love the signs behind me, ‘Blacks for Trump,’ I like those signs!”
Some viewers laughed at the fact that one of the signs was, in fact, being held by a white woman, but the group’s leader, who holds bizarre, extremist views, was standing beside her throughout the rally. He was born Maurice Woodside, but later changed his name to Michael the Black Man, as part of a personal reinvention after the cult leader he had followed throuhgout the 1980s, Yahweh ben Yahweh, was jailed in 1991 for a series of killings that included the beheading of one victim. At the time, Woodside was accused by his own brother, who was also in the cult, of taking part in the murders of two dissident members, but was eventually acquitted.
As the Miami New Times reported two weeks ago, when Michael was also positioned on the bleachers behind Trump at a rally, after leaving the cult he became known in conservative circles “an anti-gay, anti-liberal preacher with a golden instinct for getting on TV at GOP events.”
Asked by the New Times why he supports Trump, Michael listed a number of delusional beliefs, including that “Hillary’s last name is Rodham, and their family members are Rothschilds.”
In recent months, Michael and his followers have appeared repeatedly at Trump events, wearing a T-shirts that read “Republicans and Trump are not racist,” above the url for his website, Gods2.com.
That website includes a political cartoon depicting Clinton and President Obama as instruments of the devil, an image of Michael with Sean Hannity and a video headlined, “Michael The Black Man helping Republicans and Tea Party from 1994 until now,” in which he also takes credit for protesting against the Florida recount in 2000.
Michael explained his decision to endorse Trump in a rambling 72-minute YouTube monologue, mixing together odd takes on scripture — like an aside about a biblical patriarch getting “drunk and having sex with a guy” — and political commentary. He also scoffed at the notion that Trump needed to be qualified to be an effective president. “What’s important to me is Trump gets in,” Michael said, “he doesn’t have to be qualified or none of that crap, because the most unqualified people is who God always chose.”