Protesters Greet Trump at Mississippi Museum As Leaders Honor Civil Rights Figures
"Why should anyone give the stage to the president so he can have a photo op only to fight against all the things that civil rights workers fought for?"
As civil rights activists and African-American leaders including Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) boycotted President Donald Trump's visit to Mississippi's brand-new Civil Rights Museum in Jackson on Saturday, hundreds of protesters greeted the president to condemn his record on race relations and civil rights.
Demonstrators held signs that read, "Trump Equals Hate" and "Make America Civil Again." Some chanred, "No Trump, no hate, no KKK in the USA," while others opted to protest silently with Confederate flags over their mouths, in reference to Trump's refusal to denounce symbols associated with the South's fight to keep slavery legal.
Inside the museum, Trump made an abbreviated visit after originally planning to speak at length at an outdoor event. He spoke in front of an invitation-only crowd, the majority of whom were white according to Los Angeles Times reporter Jaweed Kaleem.
The crowd Trump will address this morning in Jackson, a majority black city, at the civil rights museum: mostly white. Maybe a quarter of attendees are black. pic.twitter.com/ufjBHzHzOX— Jaweed Kaleem (@jaweedkaleem) December 9, 2017
Meanwhile, NAACP President Derrick Johnson and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba hosted a separate event at the nearby Smith Robertson Museum, the site of the city's first public school for African-American students. They argued there that the presence of Trump, who has angered many with his racist rhetoric since entering office and during his 2016 campaign, at the historic opening of the museum was disrespectful to those who have fought for civil rights.
"It is my appreciation for the Mississippi martyrs not here—the names both known and unknown—that will not allow me, that will not allow many of us standing here today to share a stage with a president who has not demonstrated a continuing commitment to civil rights," said Lumumba at the press conference.
The NAACP and other civil rights advocates cited Trump's refusal last summer to denounce avowed white supremacists who gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia; his claim that Lewis, who worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s was "all talk" and "no action," and his promotion of a border wall and travel bans to keep immigrants out of the U.S. as reasons to boycott his visit to Jackson.
Appearing on MSNBC on Sunday morning, Johnson followed up the press conference by asking, "Why should anyone give the stage to the president so he can have a photo op only to fight against all the things that civil rights workers fought for?"