Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) announced Thursday that they will be skipping Saturday’s opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, Miss., over President Donald Trump’s planned attendance, calling it an “insult” to the civil rights movement for the president to attend.
Lewis announced his decision in a joint statement with Thompson, Mississippi’s only Democrat in Congress.
“President Trump’s attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum,” they said. “President Trump’s disparaging comments about women, the disabled, immigrants and National Football League players 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 Mississippi to be a better place.”
The White House responded later in the day, saying it is an “unfortunate” decision.
“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,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
Lewis was the former chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and was one of the “Big Six” leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington. He played many key roles in the Civil Rights Movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States.
Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) hit back at that White House statement with chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) responding, “It’s laughable that the White House is criticizing Rep. John Lewis and Rep. Bennie Thompson for not attending the opening of a civil rights museum that honors the sacrifice of …wait… John Lewis, Bennie Thompson & many others.”