(Reuters) – Longtime U.S. congressman from Georgia John Lewis, who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s, said on Thursday that he would not attend the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum this weekend because President Donald Trump planned to attend.
“President Trump’s attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum,” Lewis said in a statement.
The statement by the Georgia Democrat, who has served in Congress for 31 years, and Mississippi Democratic U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson mentioned Trump’s “disparaging comments about women, the disabled, immigrants, and National Football League players.”
Trump said earlier this week that he would attend the opening of the museum in Jackson, the state capital.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has denounced Trump’s planned attendance.
Lewis and Thompson said in their statement that Trump had shown “disrespect” for people who fought for civil rights in Mississippi.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, responding to the Lewis-Thompson statement, said, ”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.”
Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Editing by Toni Reinhold