In this Dec. 2, 2015, photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Prince William County Fair Ground in Manassas, Va. Trump tapped a man to be a senior business adviser to his real-estate empire even after the mans past involvement in a major mafia-linked stock fraud scheme became public. Felix Sater pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering in 1998. His conviction remained secret for nearly a decade as he worked as a government informant and an executive at the Bayrock Group, a real estate firm that partnered with Trump.  (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
In this Dec. 2, 2015, photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Prince William County Fair Ground in Manassas, Va. Trump tapped a man to be a senior business adviser to his real-estate empire even after the mans past involvement in a major mafia-linked stock fraud scheme became public. Felix Sater pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering in 1998. His conviction remained secret for nearly a decade as he worked as a government informant and an executive at the Bayrock Group, a real estate firm that partnered with Trump. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
PHOTO: Cliff Owen/AP/File
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Story highlights

A group of black Republicans endorsed Donald Trump, saying the Republican front-runner is the best candidate to "free black communities" from Democrats

Throughout his campaign, Trump has often been criticized for his words and actions toward black Americans

(CNN) —  

A group of black Republicans endorsed Donald Trump on Friday, saying the Republican front-runner is the best candidate to “free black communities” from Democrats.

“Black Americans across America are beginning to wake up and see clearly the reality of what is happening in black neighborhoods,” the National Black Republican Association said on its blog.

“We believe that Mr. Trump has demonstrated that he can push back against the mainstream media, end political correctness and free black communities from the destructive grip of socialist Democrats.”

Frances Rice, co-founder and chairman of the group, wrote that Trump shares the association’s values.

“As citizens who happen to be black, we support Mr. Trump because he shares our values,” she wrote. “We are deeply concerned about illegal immigration, a major cause of high black unemployment, especially among black youth.”

The real-estate magnate, who previously told CNN that he’s going to win the African-American vote, announced the endorsement Friday on Twitter.

Trump has not shied away from discussing issues about race popular with black Americans. He recently spoke about the lack of diversity among Oscar nominees and previously criticized Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s statements about black students performing better at less selective schools.

But throughout his campaign, Trump has often been criticized for his words and actions toward black Americans.

The same day as the Republican group’s endorsement, Trump recirculated a tweet from a Twitter user with the handle “WhiteGenocideTM.” He has attracted negative attention in the past for retweeting racially charged crime data.

Earlier this month, Trump attacked Tavis Smiley, author of “The Covenant with Black America: Ten Years later,” calling him racist after the political pundit called Trump a “racial arsonist.”

And Trump suggested last fall that perhaps a Black Lives Matter protester should have been roughed up after the activist was physically assaulted at a Trump rally.

Even former allies, including hip-hop legends Russell Simmons and KRS-One, have criticized Trump’s words about minorities.

Because of those criticisms, a high-profile attempt by the Trump campaign to garner support from black pastors did not end as planned.

Late last year, the Trump campaign trumpeted a meeting with “a coalition of 100 African-American Evangelical pastors and religious leaders who will endorse the GOP front-runner after a private meeting.”

But in the end, more pastors ended up criticizing Trump’s past statements related to black Americans.

“It’s very unfortunate the way he has talked to not just the African-American community but the things he has said about women, Mexicans and Muslims,” Pastor Victor Couzens of Cincinnati, Ohio, told reporters. “What’s more discouraging than the things that he has said is the fact that in the face of him saying all these things, he continues to surge in the polls. That really concerns me.”