Two Black Lawmakers to Boycott Trump’s Civil Rights Museum Visit

Updated on
  • Civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis among those not attending
  • Statement says Trump policies ‘insult’ to movement pioneers
John Lewis Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Two prominent black lawmakers said they won’t participate in the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum on Saturday because President Donald Trump will be there.

Representatives John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights pioneer, and Bennie Thompson of Mississippi said in a joint statement on Thursday that the president’s remarks about women, the disabled, immigrants and professional football players show disrespect for the legacy of those who are honored at the museum.

“President Trump’s attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum,” they said. “After President Trump departs, we encourage all Mississippians and Americans to visit this historic civil rights museum.”

Thompson had said in a statement on Dec. 4 that Trump’s “unfair budget cuts in agriculture, education, health care and housing disproportionately impacts people of color and is viewed by many as an act reminiscent of Jim Crow policies of the south.”

During his campaign and in the first year of his presidency, Trump has been accused by Democrats of playing to the racial resentments of parts of his mostly white political base. When violence broke out in August during a demonstration and rally by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, leading to the death of a counter-protester, Trump was widely criticized by Republicans as well as Democrats for blaming both sides for the conflict.

‘Should Be Proud’

The president was invited to the opening by Mississippi’s governor, Phil Bryant, who said on Twitter Wednesday that “Mississippi should be proud” that Trump had agreed to speak at the event.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called the decision by the two lawmakers “unfortunate.”

The pair should join Trump in “honoring the incredible sacrifice civil rights leaders made to right the injustices in our history,” Sanders said. “The president hopes others will join him in recognizing that the movement was about removing barriers and unifying Americans of all backgrounds.”

The museum is opening Saturday in Jackson, Mississippi, which Thompson has represented since 1993 and which was a focal point for the civil rights movement. It “promotes a greater understanding of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement and its impact by highlighting the strength and sacrifices of its people,” according to the museum’s website.

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