The NAACP said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump should cancel his plans to attend the opening of a Mississippi civil rights museum, saying his appearance at the ceremony would be divisive.
“President Trump’s statements and policies regarding the protection and enforcement of civil rights have been abysmal, and his attendance is an affront to the veterans of the civil rights movement,” Derrick Johnson, the NAACP’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “He has created a commission to reinforce voter suppression, refused to denounce white supremacists, and overall, has created a racially hostile climate in this nation.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced on Tuesday the president’s planned travel to the opening of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson. Since reports surfaced Monday that Trump was planning the trip, civil rights leaders in Mississippi have asked the president to stay away or have threatened protests.
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“I think this is something that should bring the country together to celebrate the opening of this museum and highlighting the civil rights movement and the progress that we’ve made,” Sanders said. “And I would hope that those individuals would join in that celebration instead of protesting it. However, they have every right to protest it.”
Trump was widely criticized in August for his response to violent, racially-charged protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, saying that “both sides” were to blame for the incident. He’s also faced pressure to more strongly condemn white supremacists who support him.
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The day before the museum opening, Trump will hold a rally in Pensacola, Florida, where he’s expected to again publicly endorse the candidacy of Roy Moore, a controversial Republican running for the Senate in a special election in nearby Alabama. Moore has been criticized by civil rights advocates; he’s said that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to serve in Congress and that homosexual behavior should be illegal.
Speakers at the museum event are expected to include Georgia Representative John Lewis, a Democrat and civil rights icon; Myrlie Evers, the widow of Medgar Evers; Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, a Republican; and former governors Haley Barbour, a Republican, and William F. Winter, a Democrat.
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