Outrage After Trump Insults Civil Rights Icon John Lewis
"I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It will be hard. It's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president," Rep. John Lewis says
On the Saturday morning of a holiday weekend honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., President-elect Donald Trump trashed civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), after Lewis said he would not attend next week's inauguration ceremony.
The Georgia lawmaker—who has served in Congress since 1987; is the last living speaker of the 1963 March on Washington; and was severely beaten after leading civil rights demonstrators across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965—told NBC News on Friday that he does not plan to attend Trump's inauguration.
"It will be the first one that I miss since I've been in Congress," Lewis said. "You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right." Lewis is one of a handful of Democratic lawmakers who have announced this week that they'll be skipping the ceremony.
"I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It will be hard. It's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president," Lewis said, citing alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
"Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results," he wrote. "All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!"
ThinkProgress joined other news outlets in pointing out:
Trump's assertion that Lewis is presiding over a failing and crime-ridden district is not true.The predominantly black district represented by Lewis includes very nice parts of Atlanta and its suburbs that can hardly be described as in "horrible shape." Since 2009, crime has fallen by 30 percent.
The Hill reported:
More than 87 percent of adults in the district are high school graduates, and more than 40 percent are college graduates, according to Census data. The median household income is just over $48,000.
This isn't the first time Trump has wrongly linked majority African-American areas to crime and poverty. He did so multiple times on the campaign trail, including during the second presidential debate.
Lewis's colleagues and others expressed outrage and ridicule online:
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) January 14, 2017
— Brendan Boyle (@RepBrendanBoyle) January 14, 2017
John Lewis is an icon of the Civil Rights Movement who is fearless in the pursuit of justice and equality. He deserves better than this. https://t.co/WX1QDCKfzP
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 14, 2017
Where was John Lewis when @realDonaldTrump was delivering "I Have a Tweet"??? LOSER.
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) January 14, 2017
One result John Lewis achieved as an activist was the Fair Housing Act of 1968, targeting racist landlords. The one Trump was sued under. https://t.co/frVxZBFVZ3
— KateMaltby (@KateMaltby) January 14, 2017
John Lewis fought for civil rights, Trump paid for ads demanding the execution of five innocent Black teens. America, folks
— Rebecca Theodore (@FilmFatale_NYC) January 14, 2017
— mary dudziak (@marydudziak) January 14, 2017
— Cornell Wm. Brooks (@CornellWBrooks) January 14, 2017
Anyway, important to watch and see who will speak up for Rep. John Lewis. Who will stand with him. This is a great moment to pay attention.
— Ashley C. Ford (@iSmashFizzle) January 14, 2017
Earlier this week, Lewis testified against Trump's nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). "We need someone as attorney general who's going to look out for all of us, and not just some of us," Lewis said. "Those who are committed to equal justice in our society wonder whether Senator Sessions's call for law and order will mean today what it meant in Alabama when I was coming up back then."
The head of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), spoke to MSNBC Saturday morning about Trump's latest outburst:
— AM Joy w/Joy Reid (@amjoyshow) January 14, 2017