"After careful consideration and conversations with church leaders, elected officials, civil rights activists, and many citizens of our congressional districts, we have decided not to attend or participate in the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum", Lewis said in a statement.
At the invitation of Gov. Phil Bryant, President Donald Trump, will attend at the ceremony, an invitation that has drawn sharp criticism from civil rights groups and others who believe Trump's views and actions on race diminish the ceremonies.
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Ellie Dahmer, the 92-year-old widow of slain civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer, said the MS flag represents an unabashed defence of slavery. "After President Trump departs, we encourage all Mississippians and Americans to visit the historic civil rights museum". Officials insist the museums aren't meant to be "separate-but-equal" in a state where that phrase was invoked to maintain segregated school systems for whites and blacks that were separate and distinctly unequal.
Lewis and Thompson aren't the only ones boycotting the opening because of Trump. "It kind of feels like that's the card the governor has deal at this time", he said.
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By contrast, Trump has defended violent white supremacists, embraced law enforcement practices and voting rights restrictions that disproportionately and negatively impact black communities, repeatedly picked fights with black athletes who he has accused of not showing him sufficient respect, and demanded apologies from prominent African-Americans who have criticized him. During an event to commemorate Black History Month last February, Trump characterized slave-turned-abolitionist Frederick Douglass as "an example of somebody who's done an unbelievable job that is being recognized more and more, I notice". "Trump doesn't care nothing about black folks and poor people in particular", Hampton said.
Jeff Steinberg is thefounder of the Sojourn to the Past, a program that educates children about the Civil Rights movement, and is attending the opening Saturday.
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According to The Republic, two museums, The Museum of Mississippi History and The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, will share one building and will not shy away from the perils of the state's history, including slave chains, graphic lynching, firebombing photos and KKK robes. "The majority of the protesters Saturday are going to be the ones who know nothing about what took place back in the day", he said. "I don't know anyone who agrees that this is a move honoring people in the civil rights movement".