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Herschel Walker: Racism isn't Donald Trump

Retired NFL star Hershel Walker said Monday that racism isn’t President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump's Facebook ban to stay in place, board rules Trump allies launching nonprofit focused on voter fraud DOJ asks for outside lawyer to review Giuliani evidence MORE in a speech during the opening night of the Republican National Convention.

Walker, who boasted a 37-year “deep personal friendship” with the president, said it “hurt my soul to hear the terrible names that people call” Trump.

“The worst one is racist,” he said. “I take it as a personal insult that people think I would have a 37-year friendship with a racist.”

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“People who think that don’t know what they’re talking about,” the former Dallas Cowboys star said. “Growing up in the Deep South I've seen racism up close. I know what it is, and it isn’t Donald Trump.”

Walker has been a longtime friend of Trump following his playing days and serves on the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition. He played for a team owned by Trump in the 1980s: the USFL's New Jersey Generals.

Walker on Monday called Trump “someone who loves and respects the flag, our national anthem and our country,” adding the president also cares about social justice.

“He shows how much he cares about social justice and the Black community through his actions, and his actions speak louder than stigma or slogans on a jersey,” Walker said. “He keeps right on fighting to improve the lives of Black Americans and all Americans.”

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Walker's remarks come amid a summer of nationwide protests against racial injustice following the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, on May 25 in Minneapolis.

More demonstrations erupted this week in Wisconsin after a video circulated showing a Kenosha, Wis., police officer shooting Jacob Blake, a Black man, several times in the back. Wisconsin Gov. Tony EversTony EversWisconsin passes law requiring schools teach students about Holocaust and other genocides First lady announces virtual guests for Biden's address to Congress Overnight Health Care: CDC says it is safe for vaccinated people to unmask outdoors | White House: No decision yet on vaccine patent waiver | GOP doctors in Congress release video urging people to get vaccinated MORE (D) activated the National Guard on Monday to respond to the unrest along with law enforcement after protests turned violent.

White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsBoehner finally calls it as he sees it Stephen Miller launching group to challenge Democrats' policies through lawsuits A year with the coronavirus: How we got here MORE told reporters on Monday that Trump would be briefed on the shooting. As of Monday evening, the president had not publicly weighed in on the incident.