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Rep. John Lewis says he will skip Mississippi civil rights museum opening because of Trump's attendance

Rep. John Lewis views images of his arrest for leading a sit-in at Nashville's segregated lunch counters on March 5, 1963. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
Rep. John Lewis views images of his arrest for leading a sit-in at Nashville's segregated lunch counters on March 5, 1963. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Rep. John Lewis, a prominent Georgia Democrat and veteran of the civil rights movement, said Thursday that he would boycott the opening of a civil rights museum in Mississippi because President Trump would attend the event.

Lewis is the latest in a growing number of politicians, civil rights groups and activists who have said they will boycott Saturday’s opening ceremony in Jackson, Miss., or have called on Trump to skip it.

“President Trump’s attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum. The struggles represented in this museum exemplify the truth of what really happened in Mississippi,” Lewis said in a statement issued with Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat.

Thompson also said he would not attend the opening of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. The congressmen cited racially charged remarks from Trump and “disparaging comments about women, the disabled, immigrants and National Football League.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to the congressmen’s announcements, saying, “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. The president hopes others will join him in recognizing that the movement was about removing barriers and unifying Americans of all backgrounds.” 

In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Lewis said he would reconsider his decision if “the head man” did not attend. 

The congressmen’s announcement followed one this week from the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, which said Trump should back down from the event because of his “abysmal” record on civil rights.

2:01 p.m.: This article was updated with a comment from Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

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