Civil rights leader to sit out Trump ap­pear­ance

Rep. John Lewis won’t speak at open­ing of two mu­se­ums in Mis­sis­sippi

Albuquerque Journal - - METRO & NM - BY JEFF AMY

JACK­SON, Miss. — U.S. Rep John Lewis an­nounced Thurs­day that he won’t speak at the open­ing of civil rights and his­tory mu­se­ums in Mis­sis­sippi, say­ing it’s an “in­sult” that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will at­tend.

The long-planned Satur­day cer­e­mony will mark Mis­sis­sippi’s bi­cen­ten­nial of ad­mis­sion into the union. But what was in­tended as a mo­ment of racial unity and atone­ment in the state with the largest share of AfricanAmer­i­cans is de­scend­ing into racial and par­ti­san strife af­ter Repub­li­can Mis­sis­sippi Gov. Phil Bryant in­vited fel­low Repub­li­can Trump to at­tend.

The NAACP has said Trump should can­cel his planned ap­pear­ance be­cause of his di­vi­sive record on civil rights is­sues.

Lewis an­nounced his de­ci­sion in a joint state­ment with U.S. Rep Ben­nie Thomp­son, Mis­sis­sippi’s only Demo­crat in Congress.

“Pres­i­dent Trump’s at­ten­dance and his hurt­ful poli­cies are an in­sult to the peo­ple por­trayed in this civil rights mu­seum,” they said. “Pres­i­dent Trump’s dis­parag­ing com­ments about women, the dis­abled, im­mi­grants and Na­tional Foot­ball League play­ers dis­re­spect the ef­forts of Fan­nie Lou Hamer, Aaron Henry, Medgar Evers, Robert Clark, James Chaney, An­drew Good­man, Michael Sch­w­erner and count­less oth­ers who have given their all for Mis­sis­sippi to be a bet­ter place.”

Lewis and Thomp­son join some other prom­i­nent Democrats in the state who have pulled out since Trump’s visit was an­nounced. The chair of the state’s black leg­isla­tive cau­cus, Demo­cratic Rep. Sonya Wil­liams Barnes of Gulf­port, is urg­ing peo­ple to stay away from Satur­day’s events.

The White House is­sued a state­ment call­ing it “un­for­tu­nate” that Lewis and Thomp­son won’t join the pres­i­dent in hon­or­ing the “in­cred­i­ble sac­ri­fice civil rights lead­ers made to right the in­jus­tices in our his­tory.”

The White House said Trump hopes oth­ers will join him in rec­og­niz­ing “that the move­ment was about re­mov­ing bar­ri­ers and uni­fy­ing Amer­i­cans of all back­grounds.”

Two dis­tinct mu­se­ums are be­ing ded­i­cated un­der one roof. A mu­seum of Mis­sis­sippi His­tory cov­ers 15,000 years of hu­man habi­ta­tion. The Mis­sis­sippi Civil Rights Mu­seum fo­cuses pri­mar­ily on the years 1945 to 1976, telling about ef­forts to break down seg­re­ga­tion and big­otry, and the vi­o­lent back­lash against that work.

The mu­se­ums take an un­flinch­ing look at the state’s past, in­clud­ing graphic pho­tos of lynch­ings and fire­bomb­ings.

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