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Civil rights leaders skip event because President Trump was there

Mississippi

Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 12/11/2017, 2:57 p.m.
The head of the NAACP and two Black congressmen, including prominent...
Rep. John Lewis

The head of the NAACP and two Black congressmen, including prominent civil rights leader John Lewis, say they were not present for Saturday's opening of the nation's newest civil rights museum because President Donald Trump was there. “We take this stand out of respect for our heroes and ancestors who, often at the cost of their lives, paved the way for the ending of segregation and racial discrimination in Mississippi,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “We honor that legacy by speaking truth to power and calling out this administration’s divisive policies and its pullback from civil rights enforcement.” Instead of attending the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, Johnson held a "separate event" with local leaders at the Smith Robertson Museum in the state capital to "pay homage to those who have dedicated their lives to the civil rights of Mississippians, without the presence of President Donald Trump,” according to a press release. Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Georgia, and Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., released a joint statement announcing their decision to skip Saturday's museum's opening, also citing Trump’s attendance. “After careful consideration and conversations with church leaders, elected officials, civil rights activists, and many citizens of our congressional districts, we have decided not to attend or participate in the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum,” the congressmen said in the statement. “President Trump’s attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum. The struggles represented in this museum exemplify the truth of what really happened in Mississippi. President Trump’s disparaging comments about women, the disabled, immigrants and National Football League players disrespect the efforts of Fannie Lou Hamer, Aaron Henry, Medger Evans, Robert Clark, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and countless others who have given their all for Mississippi to be a better place. After President Trump departs, we encourage all Mississippians and Americans to visit this historic civil rights museum," the congressmen added.