US civil rights leader and national hero congressman John Lewis is not attending the opening of the Civil Rights Museum in Mississippi on Dec. 9, or participating in any way. In a statement, he and fellow representative Bennie Thompson, who is also not attending, explained that the decision is an act of protest against the president and the White House policies.
“President Trump’s attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum,” they wrote. “President Trump’s disparaging comments about women, the disabled, immigrants, and National Football League players disrespect […] countless others who have given their all for Mississippi to be a better place.”
The president—the same man who not long ago said there were “some very fine people” amongst white supremacists marching with tiki torches in Charlottesville, Virginia—is disappointed in these congressmen’s disrespect of the civil rights struggle. “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,” said press secretary Sarah Sanders of Lewis’s decision, adding that “The President hopes others will join him in recognizing that the movement was about removing barriers and unifying Americans of all backgrounds.”
That’s right: The president thinks it’s unfortunate that Lewis would not honor the sacrifice made by civil right leaders such as, well, Lewis. Lewis was the youngest of the most prominent leaders of the civil rights organizations who organized the March on Washington in 1963, alongside Martin Luther King Jr, James Farmer, Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young, Dorothy Height. Lewis is the only surviving among them.
Earlier this year, when Lewis criticized Trump, saying he was not a “legitimate” president, Trump reacted by accusing the congressman—who literally fought for actual racial equality in the country—of being “all talk and no action, constantly complaining and not doing anything about it.”
Though they won’t be at the inauguration, “after President Trump departs, we encourage all Mississippians and Americans to visit this historic civil rights museum,” Lewis and Thompson say.