Skip to comments.Remarks by President Trump at a Reception for African American History Month
Posted on 02/28/2020 6:17:11 PM PST by ransomnote
East Room February 27, 2020 6:57 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much.
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: We love you. Thank you very much, everybody.
I want to just first of all, a person thats doing an unbelievable job loves everybody in this room. Shes got tremendous heart. Shes been through a lot and she handles it better than anybody I know: our great First Lady. And she (applause) she heard you were all here, so she just wanted to come down and say hello. And we just want to thank you, honey, because youve done an incredible job. You love this country and we appreciate it too. Okay? (Applause.)
Well, thank you. And were thrilled to welcome you to the White House as we proudly celebrate African American History Month.
In every generation, African Americans have enriched our culture, deepened our faith, strengthened our community, sustained our values, raised up our conscience, and called our nation to greatness. And thats exactly whats happened and its incredible and people are really starting to recognize it.
Were pleased to be joined today by Ben Carson is around here someplace. Wheres Ben? (Applause.) A friend of mine and an incredible hes doing an incredible job.
Alex Azar and hes working very hard on a thing called the virus. (Applause.) Hows it going? Do you have anything to report to us, Alex?
SECRETARY AZAR: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Do you want to come up and talk about it? Come up for a second, Alex. Come on. We might as well learn something about its a hot topic. Come on. You got a lot of press back there, Alex. Good luck.
SECRETARY AZAR: We had one or two last night. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead.
SECRETARY AZAR: So I just want to report to everybody that, thanks to the Presidents historically aggressive containment efforts, we have really been able to keep the risk to Americans low right now, so that everyday Americans dont need to be worried. But that can change and thats why its important for all of us to prepare. Thats why the President is leading a whole-of-government effort.
Hes put the Vice President in charge of our entire government, getting prepared and making sure our state and local communities also are prepared. And so the President really deserves incredible credit because he got on this within days and weeks of learning from China about this and took action that people attacked him for. People attacked him for these actions on controlling our borders and quarantining people.
But its kept America safe. Its bought us time. So thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Yeah, really, were doing well. We have incredible professionals like Alex and we appreciate it very much. Say hello to everybody over there, Alex. I appreciate it.
Steve Mnuchin, from a place called Treasury. Where is Steve? Hi, Steve. (Applause.) Hi, Steve. Hi, Steve.
And a person who has done a fantastic job, incredible job Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza. (Applause.) I see you there.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams. Jerome. (Applause.)
And Jared Kushner, who you know. (Applause.) Jared has done a great job on criminal justice reform. Jared did a fantastic job. Thank you very much, Jared.
From the very beginning of our republic, African American heroes poured out their blood, sweat, heart, and soul to protect American freedom and to realize our founding promise that we are all made equal by the hand of Almighty God, right? (Applause.)
The very first person to give his life in our nations struggle for independence was an African American patriot, Crispus Attucks. You know that? Did you know that?
Black soldiers fought beneath the Star Spangled Banner at Fort McHenry and gave their lives to eradicate slavery in the Civil War. And that was some fight.
At Pearl Harbor, it was an African American sailor, Doris Miller, who was among the first to return enemy fire. Last month, the Navy announced that the next American aircraft carrier will bear the proud name of USS Doris Miller. Thats pretty good. (Applause.) They wont give me that honor. Thats a big boat. Thats a big ship.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: One day.
THE PRESIDENT: All right. One day, maybe. But then, in the meantime (laughs) youre right. One day, maybe.
Thats congratulations, that really is a big deal. Aircraft carrier. Doesnt get bigger than that. Its going to be one of the biggest ships in the world.
Hundreds of thousands of courageous African Americans defend our flag today. We are proudly and profoundly grateful to be joined by several members of the United States military this evening. We salute your tireless devotion and all of the great work you do for our nation. We want to thank you very much. Its incredible, the job you do. Thank you all very much military people. (Applause.)
Also with us is a young very young, frankly handsome man that I just met: 15-year old Alphonso Hill. Hes an Eagle Scout from Hubert, North Carolina. Ill be going to North Carolina soon. (Applause.) Where is he? Last year, Alphonso decided he wanted to build a flagpole for his church to honor all of those who have served our military.
At the base is a plaque dedicated to our warriors. It says, Thank you for yesterday and thank you for the days to come. Thats thats pretty good. Did you write that, up Al- where is Alphonso? Come on up here, Alphonso. We want to thank you for the incredible job youve done. Come on up. Say a few words. Good-looking guy. Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. HILL: Thank you, Mr. President. It is an honor and a privilege to stand before you today. My my ability is, Im not here to come by my own doing. Id like to thank God, my family, and mentors for their continued support throughout my journey.
As stated before, my Eagle Scout project was designed to showcase and reflect the patriotism that is within our country. It has also allowed for an opportunity to honor the men and women who are serving, will continue to serve, and who have served this great nation.
Todays recognition is a memory that Ill cherish for a lifetime. I hope that whoever is watching sees that through encouragement, focus, and passion, anything is possible. Again, thank you and God bless. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Good job. Hell be in politics someday, right? (Laughter.) You might be standing here someday. Thats great. Thank you, Alphonso. Beautiful job. Thank you very much. All those medals hes got. Wow. (Laughter.) Impressive.
We have a man who makes pillows. Did you ever hear of this guy? He makes pillows. And I dont know, for whatever reason, he just I do like his pillows, but I dont think thats but hes been such a great supporter, especially in Minnesota, where he runs Minnesota now for us. Hes the guy so if I lose Minnesota, we shouldnt I can blame you. (Laughter.) Ill say, Never buy one of
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Huh? One of the great, great and, by the way, thank you for everything. We really appreciate it. Okay? Thank you. Thank you, man. (Applause.) Hes doing a good job. Built a started from nothing, with a small company, and now he does what are your sales now?
MR. LINDELL: Well, we have 46 million My Pillows.
THE PRESIDENT: Thats fantastic. Thats fantastic. And putting a lot of people to work, too.
MR. LINDELL: Sixteen hundred people in Minnesota.
THE PRESIDENT: Sixteen hundred. Sixteen hundred in Minnesota. Fantastic job. Fantastic. (Applause.) Thats a good product too, by the way. (Applause.) Thank you. Proud of you.
As a token of our gratitude, Id like to give Alphonso a special gift that we can have him take back to his church. Can we do that, Alphonso? Its a flag flown on board Marine One. And were going to get that flag and I want to thank you, throughout our history, all of the great work that African Americans have done. (Applause.)
Alphonso, youve battled for equality and justice and liberty and we really do revere all of the great fighters. Hes going to be another one, I can see it. Did you ever hear of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and Thurgood Marshall? And this may be the next one. Although I think, Alphonso, we have a lot of people in the in au- in the offing right here. (Laughter.) We have a lot of people that might beat you to it, but youll be there someday. Ill bet you are. Come on over here, Alphonso. (Applause.)
(A flag is presented.) (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thats pretty good, huh?
MR. HILL: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Hell be here. Its only a question: Will somebody be there first, right? Its a lot of people.
You know, we have some. I think Im going to read out some of the names because theyve been incredible. You know, Kay Coles James whos been incredible. (Applause.) Where is Kay? Shes been so great and I appreciate it.
Herman Cain the great Herman Cain. Where is he? (Applause.) Herman Cain. What a great man he is and a great friend. He was leading for the in the presidential race a few years ago not so long ago. And he had a tax plan 9-9-9. Did anybody ever hear (laughter) and, man, did that capture everybodys attention. Nobody knew what it meant, but thats okay. (Laughter.) It worked. Herman Cain.
Alveda King. And shes now (applause) she is now with her great I say relative but, really, essentially, its, as far as were concerned, its your daughter. Thats your daughter. Thats what were saying.
And I want to congratulate you, Angela. Okay? Angela, congratulations. (Applause.) We just gave Angela a pardon and shes going to lead the greatest life, right? (Applause.) And she has somebody on her side named Alveda.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thats right!
THE PRESIDENT: And you cant get a better reference, Ill tell you that.
A friend of mine, hes a pastor but hes one of the toughest human beings Ive ever seen. I think hes almost too tough to be a pastor, but we wont say. And I used to watch him rip apart the CNN people. Now, they wont put him on anymore because they didnt win. (Laughter.) They only put people on that say bad stuff.
But he would take people or I mean, hes just very legit. Hes an incredible guy. Hes an unbelievable person to have as a friend. Pastor Darrell Scott. (Applause.) Where is he? Where is he? Yep. Thank you, Pastor. Great guy.
Somebody thats incredible thats really become popular, become a real star in so many ways: Candace Owens. (Applause.) Where is Candace? Where is our Candace? Thanks, Candace. Shes something.
Terrence Williams, are you here? Terrence. Oh, Terrence. I watched him the other night. Oy-yi-yi, I felt so sorry for the other side. (Laughter.)
Two people that I hope are making a fortune because they deserve it.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Huh? Are they making a lot? Diamond and Silk. (Applause.) Theyre great people. First Lady said five years ago now, can you believe it? said, You have to watch. Theres two people on the Internet. Theyre unbelievable. (Laughter.) I said, I dont want to watch two people on the Internet. (Laughter.) She said, Please. You know, she said, You go to watch. That means you have to watch, right?
And I watched. That was the first time I saw them. I said, Theyre going to be stars. And they have been just been incredible. And theyve been with me for almost before I even announced. They were there right at the beginning. Thank you both very much.
MS. HARDAWAY AND MS. RICHARDSON: (In unison.) We love you. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Its a great honor.
And Ben Carons incredible wife, Candy, thank you for being here. (Applause.) Thank you.
A friend of Pastor Darrell, a friend of mine: Kareem Lanier. Where are where is Kareem? Kareem. Yeah, thank you, Kareem. (Applause.) Kareem is our good man.
And, Angela, thank you for being here. Thats enjoy your life.
MS. STANTON-KING: Thank you!
THE PRESIDENT: Somebody thats on television speaking so well, so brilliant, so sharp, and shes on our side: Deneen Borelli. Deneen, where are you? (Applause.) Thanks, Deneen. You you speak the word. Its incredible. When youre there, nobody plays games with you, right? Thank you very much.
David Harris, Jr. became very famous. (Applause.) He walks through an airport and hes an Internet sensation, right? I dont know, youll have to tell us about that. Thank you, David.
Robert Smith. Robert, thank you. Thank you, Robert. (Applause.)
Somebody that is really somebody that I just have liked from the beginning. Hes he was with us from the beginning. I didnt know him from the beginning, but he was there. And nobody speaks more beautifully, nobody says it more beautifully: Paris Dennard. (Applause.) Paris. Thank you, Paris. Where is Paris? Hes there. Thank you. Thank you, Paris. Thank you. Thank you. What a job. Youre getting close to your people back there, (inaudible). (Laughter.) Youre getting per- Paris, thank you very much.
Is CNN back there? I cant see them.
THE PRESIDENT: A man who is a great fighter, who Ive watched over the years I like the fights. And he won, I think, 42 fights and lost very few. He had great speed. Im larger than him, but I said, Do you think I could take you in a fight? And he looked at me and he goes, Is he serious? (Laughter.) And I agree with what the said.
Andre Berto. Where is Andre? Andre? Great, job, Andre. (Applause.) Hes got a lot of wins. Forty-two wins. Forty-two wins. Thats a lot, right? Its a lot of fighting. And hes sharp as a tack.
Jack Brewer, a great player. (Applause.) Where is Jack? A great NFL player. Jack, thank you. And I loved what you said before. I dont know if they were listening the media. They dont want to hear those words, Jack, you know. But what you said
MR. BREWER: Its true!
THE PRESIDENT: I know they are, and I appreciate you saying them too. But you really, that was beautiful.
And where is Derrick Gradenigo? Derrick, what you said so beautiful. We wont forget it. Thank you, Derrick. Thank you, Derrick. (Applause.)
Marc Little is here. Marc, thank you. Thank you, Marc. (Applause.) Thank you, Marc.
Bruce LeVell. He really had a spell. (Applause.) He had a spell. Thank you, Bruce. Boy, you did a job. They turned those cameras off so fast. (Laughter.)
And somebody that really is special and an incredible woman: Stacy Washington. (Applause.) Thank you, Stacy.
And Katrina is around here someplace. Where is Katrina? Where is she? (Applause.) Where is she? Shes been shes been there from the beginning. Almost from before the beginning.
In 1955, one champion of civil rights was a student taking a train from Nashville to Houston when the conductor ordered her to leave the seat immediately because of the color of her skin, if you can believe that. Gertrude Jane Holliday Stone refused. Her belongings were stolen and she was threatened with arrest, but she she just sat and she defied this horrible order and grave injustice. She did not give up her seat. She wouldnt give it up.
And I just met her, by the way, and I say, they had a lot of problems. They had a lot of problems. They werent going to win that.
Later in life, Gertrude went on to integrate a major department store, she became the first African American to chair the Houston Public Library Board, and she is here with us today. Shes an incredible woman, an incredible success, and a nice person. Gertrude Jane, America is forever in your debt and we appreciate your being here. Please come up. Please come up and say a few words. Gertrude. (Applause.) Come on up.
And her son her loving son. Thats very nice. Thank you very much. Please.
MS. STONE: Thank you, Mr. President, for inviting me here. And my son had to bring me because Im almost 90 years old. (Applause.)
In 1955, I boarded the train from Tennessee to Texas for the Christmas holidays to visit my parents. The conductor got on the train and he looked at my ticket and he says, Youve got to move to the Jim Crow coach. And I looked at him and I said, Im not moving.
Shortly after that, he got another man I suppose the brakeman to come. And now these two men are over me, screaming and hollering and saying unkind things, telling me to move to the Jim Crow coach. And I told both of them, Im not moving.
When we got to Lake Charles, Louisiana, he had the city policeman to board the train. And now the three of them are telling me to move to the Jim Crow coach. They took all of my belongings. Its wintertime. They even took my coat. And I said, Im not moving.
There was an educator by the name of Horace Mann. He was also a congressman. And he said, Refuse to die until you have done something for humanity. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Very inspirational.
MS. STONE: Mr. Trump, I thank you for all that you do for humanity. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Inaudible.)
MS. STONE: I dont believe in abortions and he doesnt either. (Applause.) Let me tell you, you might be killing an Einstein. You might be killing a Nobel Laureate. And you might be killing somebody thats going to find the cure for the coronavirus. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Thank you.
MS. STONE: Thank you, President Trump. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you. Wait, let me take you back.
Beautiful woman. Thank you very much. Thanks, Gertrude. (Applause.)
The African American community has made every aspect of our national lives richer, better, and brighter. This week, we remember the renowned NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who recently passed away at the age of 101. Right? (Applause.) Great, great woman. Our nation will forever honor her soaring legacy in helping American astronauts to win the war on space. And were just doing now another were doing the space, you know, were going to be heading to space because thats where its at now. And we have to do that and were going to have another branch of the United States military.
So we have Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines. We have Coast Guard. And we have now I just call it Space. Thats what we want. We want Space. And thats where its at. Thats where its at, in terms of so many other things.
And were also well be heading to the Moon soon. Were going to have our first female on the Moon. And then, from the Moon, I dont know if people know this, you have to you need to land on the Moon in order to go to Mars. Its a launching pad for Mars. So its going to be great. But were really doing tremendous things at NASA.
Brilliant scientists, scholars, lawyers, and inventors, from George Washington Carver to Marie Daly to Clarence Thomas and by the way, Clarence Thomas, who I really know well incredible, man. Hes an incredible man. (Applause.) Incredible man.
I was introducing people and they were saying, Whos your favorite member of the Supreme Court? It is a big group 4-or 5,000 people. And Clarence I said, Clarence Thomas is great. This was two years ago. The place went crazy. Ive never forgotten. Every time I see him, I tell him that story. And he always likes that story. (Laughter.) But they went they went wild. They love him. But theyve improved society for all Americans.
The artistic genius of icons like Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis who I knew a little bit; he was a wild man. I wont tell the stories about Sammy because theres too much. Billie Holiday. They transformed American music, right?
Millions around the world have been inspired by towering legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Tiger Woods who just got the Presidential Medal. You saw that. Just got it recently, a few months ago. Incredible guy.
Recently, our entire nation was saddened by the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old, beautiful daughter. Kobe was one of the greatest competitors of all time. Ill tell you, I watched him play a lot of basketball. He was incredible. Just incredible and respected. Our nation continues to hold his family in our hearts and prayers.
In every field, every generation, and every calling, African Americans have lifted up our nation to new heights and, like all citizens, youre entitled to a government that puts your needs, your interests, and your families first. And thats what were doing. Were doing that for everyone. Our country is doing so well.
Well get this one problem it just shows you what can happen. Everything can be perfect, and then you hear, Gee, theres a bug. Theres a flu. Theres a virus. They didnt know what it was in China. And I said, Uh oh. That doesnt sound good. And, fortunately, we made the early moves and we closed our borders and it was a big thing. (Applause.) But I will say that things happen in life that are if they would have said, What are give me 10 bad things that you think could happen, that wouldnt have been on the list, right? But you never know.
But its working out very professionally. Were doing a tremendous job and our people are doing a tremendous job. We have the greatest experts in the world. Our nation is in the midst of the great American comeback. Thats what it is. In just over three years, weve created 7 million brand-new jobs something that would have been unthinkable to even say. I wouldnt have been able to get away with it. They would have stopped me. They would have said, Thats not realistic. Youre exaggerating. I would have never said 7 million because even I didnt think we could reach that number 7 million new jobs.
Weve created 1.3 million new jobs for African Americans. (Applause.) Black American unemployment has reached an all-time low in the history of our country. Its the best best weve ever done. (Applause.) Black youth unemployment has reached a record low. (Applause.) African American poverty rate has plummeted to the lowest level in the history of our country. These are good numbers. I dont know. I mean, I should be at 100 percent. I hate to tell you, right? No, we have incredible
Wages for African American workers have increased by $2,400 per year. Thats a record increase. Young people nationwide have seen their wages increase by more than 10 percent.
My administration is fighting for the great jobs, great schools, great healthcare, and truly great future for African Americans and for all Americans. And were doing it in record numbers.
We signed legislation that achieved permanent funding for historically black colleges and universities. (Applause.) And I just told the story to a group that were in the Oval Office. Most of them, I think, are here, I think, for the most part.
But every year from the time Im you know, Im now here, can you believe it, more than three years? How time flies.
I first came here and I stood with my wife and right opposite the Lincoln Bedroom it was the first night. And I said, Do you believe this? This is unbelievable. And then, all of a sudden, time flies and now youre more than three years. And now I have to get people working so that we win Minnesota, right? (Applause.) Youll do it.
But, but time does fly. And, you know, when you look at whats going on the incredible things that weve done for everybody its been really its been really I dont like to say a miracle because its something I always said we could do, but its been pretty incredible for everybody. And I think maybe even especially for the people in this room, because youve really been big beneficiaries of people that are smart.
You know, a very special senator from South Carolina you know this. You know who Im talking about? Tim. Right? Tim Scott. He came to me with an idea for a thing called Opportunity Zones. And and he said and, you know, over the years, theyve had many of these. Theyve had many different ideas. They have ideas. And so they never work. And I liked the idea. And I said, Lets see if we could do it, Tim. We got it passed. It went through Congress. And they are employing thousands and thousands of people. And theyre taking areas that were there was no investment. And people are putting money into those areas, and jobs are being created.
And Opportunity Zones is a lot of people arent talking about it, but Opportunity Zones are one of the great things that have happened to the black community, to a lot of communities, when you think. But I would say the biggest beneficiary is the black, Hispanic community. Its been an incredible success and Im very proud of it. Im very proud of Tim Scott for bringing it to me. And Im glad I said I liked that idea. You never know. You know, you try things and sometimes they work and sometimes they dont work as well. But this has been one of the great stories the whole thing with the Opportunity Zones. So its been really incredible.
And the other thing thats been a great story is criminal justice reform. (Applause.) And, as you know, theyve been trying to it was its been very unjust. Maybe a real spokesman or person, you might say in the old days, youd say spokesman, now you say spokeswoman or spokesperson but Alice Johnson, whos been (applause) she was in jail for 22 years. And she was in jail for think of it 22 years and she had a long time to go almost 20 years to go for something that was just not a fair situation.
And she admits she said, Oh, she shouldnt have made a phone call and something. But 22 years. And shes an incredible and shes actually recommended I said, How many people are like you in the prison? And she said she said, Quite a few. I said, Are they all innocent? No. Im glad she that. (Laughter.) She said, No, some are very bad. I said, Good. So at least youre not just saying everybodys perfect, right? She said, No, some are very bad. But she said, You have a lot of people that are great people that were treated very unfairly.
So we have criminal justice reform that was done which is really most helpful by far, frankly to the black community. And its something that was a great honor. Jared Kushner, who stands right over here, he was pushing it very hard. (Applause.) He was pushing it very hard.
Late at night Id get calls about criminal justice reform. Id say, Whats that, please? And he was explaining about fairness and unfairness. We understand what fairness I get treated unfairly, too. We all get treated unfair. (Laughter.) And all we have to do you know when you get treated unfairly, you know what you have to do? Just keep winning. Win, win, win. Right? (Applause.) Keep winning. Thats what youve been doing. Thats what youve been doing. So we got criminal justice reform done. So many things. It was just incredible.
I was going to tell you before the black colleges, universities so every year, theyd come to see me. And theyd come up, and theyd say, Hello. I say, Good. Then, after two years, I said, Huh. Why are they coming back? Thats strange. And I said, Why are you coming back? Well, we have to because we dont have funding. We have to come back every year and ask for it. He said, I feel like a beggar. This is the dean of a great school. And I said, I understand that. And I sort of let it go.
And then the next year, they came in not so long ago. And I think it was about 35 people the heads of the school, the top people at these different schools. Many of them I knew. Great schools Howard, a lot of great schools. And I said, Youre back. The same man. I said, Youre back. And he said, Yeah, were back. Were back begging for money. I said, You shouldnt have to do this. Not fair. And I had passed legislation that takes care of your historically black colleges and universities for the long term so you dont have to come back. (Applause.) Thanks.
And Ben Carson helped me a lot, I have to say. Right, Ben? Ben Carson. I said, Take off your housing hat for a little while. We have to take care of this. And the only bad thing I said, Im not going to see you people anymore. I wont see you coming up to the White House every year. But they appreciated it, and nobody could have got it done but us. Ill say us because Im trying to be modest, you know. I want to be modest. But nobody could have gotten that done but us. And its a great thing. They do an incredible job. Such an important job.
Every day, I will not rest, I will not stop, I will never give up until weve delivered equal and abundant opportunity to every neighborhood all across our land. Together, we will bring hope to every family, justice to every citizen, and pride to every loyal American heart. Because of your courage and your devotion, we will make America stronger and safer and prouder and freer and greater than it ever was before. (Applause.)
And I just want to congratulate the black community because what youve done and the progress youve made over the last three years is also record setting. Its record setting. Theres never been anything like it. And the word is out. You know, the word is out. People know. People know what weve done all together.
But I just want to thank you all. Youre really incredible job youve done. You go back a long time, this country would not be this country without the incredible job that your ancestors have done, that youve done, and you can be very proud of it. You can be very proud of it. (Applause.)
So, I want to say thank you and God bless you all. God bless you all. Were with you all the way. Thank you. (Applause.)
7:31 P.M. EST
Whatta guy! He has taken big, practical steps to improve some of the most critical situations — jobs, wage increases, housing, education, business opportunity, justice, and visibility. And he assembled a great bunch of patriots in that room who have partnered with him, Dr. Carson and Jared Kushner, among others, to get it done. Kudos!
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