JACKSON, Miss. — U.S. Rep John Lewis says he won’t speak at the opening of Mississippi civil rights and history museums, calling it intolerable that President Donald Trump will attend.
Lewis made the announcement Thursday. The Georgia Democrat and civil rights icon helped organize the 1964 Freedom Summer targeting segregation in Mississippi.
The Saturday ceremony marks Mississippi’s bicentennial of admission into the union. But what was intended as a moment of racial unity and atonement in the state with the largest share of African-Americans is descending into racial and partisan strife after Republican Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant invited fellow Republican Trump to attend.
The NAACP has said Trump should cancel his planned appearance because of is divisive record on civil rights issues.
Several prominent Mississippi Democrats say they won’t attend. Some plan protests.
The White House says it’s unfortunate the lawmakers won’t join the president in honoring the “incredible sacrifice civil rights leaders made to right the injustices in our history.”
The White House says Trump hopes others will join him in recognizing “that the movement was about removing barriers and unifying Americans of all backgrounds.”