John Lewis Will Skip Civil Rights Museum Opening Because Trump’s Attending

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., joined at left by Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., makes a point as the House Ways and Means Committee continues its debate over the Republican tax reform package, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Reps. John Lewis (D-GA) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS) announced Thursday night they will not attend the opening for a new civil rights museum in Mississippi because the President is planning to be there on Saturday.

In a joint statement, the two congressmen, who are widely recognized as icons of the civil rights movement, said President Donald Trump’s presence at the event is “an insult” to those who are being celebrated at the new 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 disrespects 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,” the two wrote. “After President Trump departs, we encourage all Mississippians and Americans to visit this historic civil rights museum.”

In an interview with Nexstar Media Group later Thursday, Thompson said he “can’t see myself on the same stage with someone as divisive as President Trump,” he said. “I think he has to atone for how he’s mistreated minorities in this country.”

The White House responded by attempting to cast the decision as a sign of disrespect to the “incredible sacrifice civil rights leaders made.”

“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,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Thursday after noon, according to the White House press pool report. “The President hopes others will join him in recognizing that the movement was about removing barriers and unifying Americans of all backgrounds.”

The White House response was “laughable,” according to the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus who pointed out the irony of criticizing two civil rights leaders for choosing not to attend a museum opening that honors them.

“This White House is not serious about civil rights,” Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) said in a statement.

H/t: Politico

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