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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — President Donald Trump has honored figures of the civil rights movement, some famous, some not, at a ceremony that exposed stark divisions among Americans about his commitment to that legacy.

Trump on Saturday toured the new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the adjacent Museum of Mississippi, both in Jackson. Outside, demonstrators protested his presence, some holding signs that said “Make America Civil Again” and “Lock Him Up” and others shouting “No Trump, no hate, no KKK in the USA.” During the opening ceremony, about 25 people stood silently with Confederate battle flag stickers covering their mouths.

Trump spent about 30 minutes at the museums, gave a 10-minute speech to select guests inside and flew back to his Florida estate, skipping the dedication ceremony held outside on a chilly day. He spent more time getting to Jackson than he did on the ground.

In a deliberate voice and rarely diverting from his prepared words, the president sought to honor the famous and the anonymous for their efforts on behalf of freedom and equality. He did not acknowledge the anger his participation had sparked leading up to the dedication.

“The civil rights museum records the oppression, cruelty and injustice inflicted on the African-American community, the fight to bring down Jim Crow and end segregation, to gain the right to vote and to achieve the sacred birthright of equality,” he said. “And it’s big stuff. That’s big stuff.”

Trump has been accused of harboring racial animosity, and critics cite his blaming of “both sides” for deadly violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the summer. Trump has also relentlessly criticized NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality largely directed at African-American males.

Trump opened his presidential campaign by branding Mexicans as rapists and criminals, and while campaigning called for a “complete and total shutdown” of Muslims entering the U.S. after a deadly gun attack in San Bernardino, California.

The national president of the NAACP and the mayor of Mississippi’s capital city said they kept their distance from Trump because of his “pompous disregard” for the values embodied by the civil rights movement.

Derrick Johnson, head of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, and Mayor Chokwe Lumumba said at a news conference Saturday that they looked forward to a “grander opening” of the museum that they can attend.

“We will never cede the stage to an individual who will fight against us,” Johnson said. “We will not allow the history of those who sacrificed to be tarnished for political expediency.”

Johnson and Lumumba spoke to about 100 supporters, including some who participated in the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s, at Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center. Once the first public school built for African-Americans in Jackson, it’s now a museum to black history and culture.

Lumumba called Trump to task for “his pompous disregard for all of those factors that will not enable us to stand with him today.”

The state’s attorney general, Jim Hood, criticized Republican Gov. Phil Bryant for inviting Trump. “It threw cold water in the face of people who fought the battles for civil rights,” Hood said.

Bryant, who introduced Trump, spoke of “the emotion that comes over you in waves as you see the past, the struggle, the conflict. I’m so very proud today that the president of the United States was here to see and witness it.”

Trump told Bryant the museums would be a “great legacy” for him as governor.

In his remarks, Trump drew on the achievements of civil rights veterans.

“Today we strive to be worthy of their sacrifice,” he said. “We pray for inspiration from their example. We want our country to be a place where every child from every background can grow up free from fear, innocent of hatred and surrounded by love, opportunity and hope. Today we pay solemn tribute to our heroes of the past and dedicate ourselves to building a future of freedom, equality, justice and peace.”

He called the museums “labors of love — love for Mississippi, love for your nation, love for God-given dignity written into every human soul.”

Trump singled out Medgar Evers, the Mississippi NAACP leader who was shot to death outside his home in 1963. His widow, Myrlie, was in the audience for Trump’s speech and drew a standing ovation when he acknowledged her.

Trump said Medgar Evers “knew it was long past time for his nation to fulfill its founding promise to treat every citizen as an equal child of God.” Evers, Trump said, now rests in Arlington National Cemetery “beside men and women of all races, backgrounds and walks of life who’ve served and sacrificed for our country. Their headstones do not mark the color of their skin but immortalize the courage of their deeds.”

Myrlie Evers did not mention Trump in her remarks a short time later at the outdoor public ceremony. “Regardless of race, creed or color, we are all Americans. … If Mississippi can rise to the occasion, then the rest of the country should be able to do the same thing,” she said.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a leader of the civil rights movement, was among those who stayed away. He said Trump’s presence at the museum opening was an insult.

The White House accused Lewis and others of injecting politics into a moment it said could be used to bring people together.

Associated Press writers Jeff Amy and Emily Wagster Pettus contributed to this report.

PHOTO: AP

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23 thoughts on “Protests Meet Trump At New Civil Rights Museum Opening

  1. Virginia on said:

    What has Sessions done? I haven’t found anything yet that connects him with the KKK and I’ve looked around the internet for that information.

  2. Virginia on said:

    What has Sessions done? I haven’t found anything yet that connects him with the KKK and I’ve looked around the internet for that information.

    • Virginia on said:

      L, Civil Rights are for everyone, the first 10 are the main ones, the other 17 are mostly clarification. “I may not like what you say, but I’ll fight to my death your right to say it”. Don’t remember who said it originally. I haven’t seen anything yet that makes Sessions sho

  3. Wow !!! reading these comments makes me sad …we have such a long way to go as a people..we really DON’T understand Democracy or economics,,We praise professional Athletes , entertainers , ect and we don’t hold any of them accountable to give back to the Black Community,,we sit and watch award shows ,,they flaunt their wealth and sell us things of little to no value .. NO BANKS , NO BUSINESS SCHOOLS , NO TRADE SCHOOLS, but we buy $200 sneakers from them..Who is really pimping our community !!!??

    • specialt757 on said:

      Eddie, perhaps you should consider during research on the athletes, plenty have and do give back to the black community. Start with Colin Kaepernick.
      And as for buying $200 yes plenty of folks do that, no different than people buying berkin bags, MK, TH, DK, red bottom shoes, jimmy choo, etc… oh and these are not just black folks either. Trust me, there are plenty of folks that don’t, i’m definitely one that does not., I refuse to finance someone’s yacht that I will never be invited to ride on.

    • Virginia on said:

      Sandy, white men call other men (regardless of skin color) sons-of-bitches when what they do is seen as stupid, poorly done, idiotic, and so on. So SOB isn’t a racist term.

  4. Good of Trump to attend the Opening as far as inviting Obama or Hilary or Bill
    What did Obama do for AA’s? both Hilary and Bill gave praise to a former Klan Grand wizard not to mention the DNC e-mail scandal that exposed the racist mindset of many staff,so yes it’s good Trump went and represented, brush aside the mindless lemmings and useful idiots who were herded out armed with talking points and professionally printed posters to do their masters bidding

    • What the uck has/ is the farce in chief doing for the blk community? Not a damn thing. He never has done anything for us and he never will!!!! Period!!!!

    • Sooo looks like you need to get off your ass and see to your own future and prosperity
      Instead of feeding from the trough of Race Baiters and Democratic Plantation owners
      who are the only ones advanced by your servitude

      • Stfu fool, u don’t knw me or anything about me. I will continue to call out the fake prez as long as he has that title.

  5. Trump should NOT have been allowed to speak, he has no respect for us as a people. He really is a racist for real and only uses the black card when it’s a convenience for him. I could easily think of 100 other people that would have considered it an honor to speak about CIVIL RIGHTS and would have understood the real MEANING…. TRUMP has no clue what’s happening PERIOD….

    • Virginia on said:

      Tina, what would you have POTUS do for the Black Community? He said this week, “black unemployment is at it’s lowest in 17(?) Years. Black home ownership is the highest in history.”

  6. Why are people on this web page defending the orange one? Aren’t there other sites available to praise the farce in chief?? 99% of the comments on here aren’t here for singing his praise. Dum dum should never have gone to that museum. He doesn’t give a damn about blk folks past or present. Thx.

  7. sharonmiranda on said:

    Dear White House, only in the minds of those who can’t see what Trump is all about or who have political or monetary gain from him can think this could have been a moment to bring people together. The clearly-seen man is nothing but divisive, manipulative and going for self-aggrandizement and political greed. When you see that and feel that, you can’t allow your self to “use” it to bring people anywhere.

  8. Yes Mia .P ..I teach my children to follow GOD ..obey the laws of the country , do well in school..respect others and YOU will be successful in the country..and YOU can become whatever you want to become NO MATTER WHO’S THE PRESIDENT !!!!

  9. Yes President Obama did make us feel good let our kids know if you work hard at everything you can do and become whatever you want and I’m a Black Women and his racist ass should not have been invited and they should have invited President Obama and I bet orange face would have not came and if it was so important why did he rush out so fast.

  10. As a BLACK man..i’m still trying to figure out what has ANY president really done for black people..Bill Clinton has mass incarceration as his legacy..Hillary called black men “Super predators”..Reagan nothing..Bush nothing ,,Obama nothing (made us feel good ) ,,Nobody has done anything specific for Black people,,so please let’s stop this :issue” with Trump..Sometimes he says what many other presidents thought !!!

  11. Chump shouldn’t have even shown his damn orange face at the Civil Rights Museum in Mississippi.

    His policies and his stance on Civil Right for people of color is ATROCIOUS!!!!!!!!

    I hope that the protestors SHOUTED CHUMP down so he could not SPEAK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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