Black lawmakers to snub Trump in Mississippi

Sergio Conner
December 7, 2017

Several groups are organizing protests of the president's appearance, as museum officials urge visitors to keep those protests away from the museum grounds out of respect for what the museum represents.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis said he has cancelled his plans to attend the grand opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum this weekend because he would have had to share a stage with President Donald Trump.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders expressed disappointment over the NAACP's protest but said the organization has every right to object Trump's visit.

These attacks, the statement claimed, disrespect the efforts of Fannie Lou Hamer, Aaron Henry, Medgar Evers, Robert Clark, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and "countless others who have given their all for MS to be a better place".

"We are telling a much longer story in the Museum of Mississippi History, a much deeper story in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum", noted Katie Blount, director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Governor Phil Bryant said Wednesday that Trump's visit is an honor and he wishes Mississippians would use this as an opportunity to come together. "I don't know anyone who thinks this is a smart move. Allow the president to come and honor MS with his speech and his presence". The Georgia Democrat and civil rights icon helped organize the 1964 Freedom Summer targeting segregation in Mississippi.

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In the 1950s and '60s, segregationist whites waved Confederate flags and slapped defiant bumper stickers on cars declaring MS "the most lied about State in the Union". Later, as the head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Lewis organized Freedom Summer, a volunteer effort to register voters in MS in 1964. Evers has said she will address Trump's presence. The Rev. C.J. Rhodes, a prominent African American clergyman, tweeted Thursday morning that Lewis' "voice is needed here now more than ever".

The Museum of Mississippi History will explore 15,000 years, from the Stone Age to modern times.

The two distinct museums under a single roof are both funded by State tax dollars and private donations.

Ellie Dahmer, the 92-year-old widow of slain civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer, said the MS flag represents an unabashed defence of slavery.

The museums take an unflinching look at the state's past - complete with displays of slave chains, Ku Klux Klan robes and graphic photos of lynchings and firebombings.

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