Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) says he will not attend the upcoming opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum due to President Trump’s presence there.
“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,” he said in a joint statement with Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) Thursday.
“President Trump’s attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum,” they continued. “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 [NFL] 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 added that they hope people would journey to the new museum once Trump leaves.
“After President Trump departs, we encourage all Mississippians and Americans to visit this historic civil rights museum,” they said.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday criticized Lewis and Thompson for shunning Saturday’s event in Jackson, Mississippi.
“We think it’s unfortunate that these members of Congress wouldn’t join the president in honoring the incredible sacrifice civil rights leaders made to right the injustices in our history,” she said in a statement.
“[Trump] hopes other will join him in recognizing that the movement was about removing barriers and unifying Americans of all backgrounds,” Huckabee Sanders added.
Lewis was a major civil rights leader in the 1960s, serving as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
The Georgia Democrat was also badly beaten by police alongside other civil rights activists during a famous 1965 march from Selma, Alabama to the state’s capital of Montgomery.