Rep. John Lewis (D., Ga.) released a joint statement with Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D., Miss.) on Thursday stating they will not go to this weekend's opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum due to President Donald Trump's planned attendance. "America can't really turn a corner with regards to its racist and violent past and present until the South, and particularly a state like MS, confronts it - and confronts it unflinchingly", said Gaude, who is a MS native. White House officials confirmed this week that he had accepted the invitation.
"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". "The President hopes others will join him in recognizing that the movement was about removing barriers and unifying Americans of all backgrounds".
Mississippi NAACP President Charles Hampton said it is a "very inappropriate time to invite Trump". He wrote on Facebook, "Having the openings of the museums involve President Trump on any level pollutes the day and will sap sorely needed credibility from these endeavors".
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The Museum of Mississippi History will explore 15,000 years, from the Stone Age to modern times. Former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus and state Rep. Sonya Williams Barnes (D-Gulfport), who chairs the Black Caucus, also announced they'll be staying away from the museum's opening. A spokesperson for the city says the Governor's office and Secret Service are taking the lead on barricades and security for the visit. "If he could, he would wipe all us right off the map". NAACP Mississippi chapter president Charles Hampton asked Bryant to rescind the invitation noting, "an invitation to a president that has aimed to divide this nation is not becoming of this historic moment". "He has never been a supporter of civil rights or equal opportunity or justice". "I don't know anyone who thinks this is a smart move".
Lewis, a civil rights icon and Georgia Democrat, was arrested in Jackson in 1961 with Freedom Riders who were protesting segregated bus travel.
He told CNN that Trump attending the opening of the museum was "an affront to what the Civil Rights Movement really stood for".