Civil rights advocates across the country are outraged at President Donald Trump’s plans to attend the grand opening the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum this weekend in Jackson, Mississippi.
“President Trump’s statements and policies regarding the protection and enforcement of civil rights have been abysmal, and his attendance is an affront to the veterans of the civil rights movement.”
— Derrick Johnson, NAACP
“President Trump’s statements and policies regarding the protection and enforcement of civil rights have been abysmal, and his attendance is an affront to the veterans of the civil rights movement,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.
Outlining various actions Trump has taken as president, Johnson noted that “he has created a commission to reinforce voter suppression, refused to denounce white supremacists, and overall, has created a racially hostile climate in this nation.”
Amos Brown, an NAACP board member and native of Jackson, Mississippi, called the invitation extended “an insult,” charging that the president “has never been a supporter of civil rights or equal opportunity or justice.”
Following confirmation from the White House on Tuesday that Trump will attend the event—which will also serve as a grand opening for a general state history museum—some have issued warnings that the president can’t be trusted to behave in such a setting while others have announced plans to protest or boycott the ceremony.
Mississippi native Joyce Ladner, who was mentored by NAACP leader Medgar Evers before he was assassinated in 1963, told USA Today she will no longer attend because Trump opposes the principles that guided the civil rights movement.
“What would Medgar Evers think?” she said. “How would Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman feel?” she added, referencing three civil rights activists who were killed by the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi in 1964.
Civil rights advocates and public servants are scheduled to speak at the museum’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday—the state’s 200th birthday—including activist Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of Medgar Evers; Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.); former governors Haley Barbour and William F. Winter and Mississippi’s current Republican governor, Phil Bryant, who extended an invitation to the president.
“He has no place at a celebration of the very values and aspirations his presidency is clearly committed to destroy.”
—Jacqueline R. Amos, Mississippi Democratic Party
Mississippi NAACP President Charles Hampton called on Bryant to rescind Trump’s invitation.
“At a time when this state and country will reflect upon the sacrifices made by those known and unknown in Mississippi for the struggle for civil rights,” Hampton said, “an invitation to a president that has aimed to divide this nation is not becoming of this historic moment.”
State Rep. Jeramey Anderson said “Bryant’s invitation undermines the very progress we have made in our state,” and that Trump’s “hateful offensive, and violent rhetoric is regressive and jeopardizes the integrity of the entire nation.”
Jacqueline R. Amos, field director of the Mississippi Democratic Party, lamented “that the presence of such a hugely divisive and polarizing figure will pervert and diminish what could otherwise be a healing and teaching moment for our state.”
“Trump attained to the highest office in the land by appeals and tactics that do great and lasting violence to our civil rights heritage. His campaign appealed to the very worst demons of the American soul,” Amos said. “He is a disgraceful president, a malicious influence, and an abominable human being. He has no place at a celebration of the very values and aspirations his presidency is clearly committed to destroy.”
“Mr. President, leave Mississippi alone,” she pleaded. “We have had far too much experience with your kind already.”