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Amid Boycott by Black Leaders, Trump Lauds Martin Luther King as Man He “Watched and Admired” His “Entire Life”

President Donald Trump speaks after touring the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum on December 9, 2017 in Jackson, Mississippi. The museum had a grand opening event and hopes to promote a greater understanding of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement and its impact by highlighting the strength and sacrifices of its people.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump speaks after touring the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum on December 9, 2017 in Jackson, Mississippi.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

When President Donald Trump went to the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum on Saturday, there were some notable civil rights leaders who were absent from the crowd. Many of the most high profile civil rights leaders, including Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, decided to skip the event. “President Trump’s attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum,” the two lawmakers had said in a joint statement.

They were hardly alone. “He does not deserve to be in Jackson for the celebration of the civil rights museum opening,” civil rights activist Amos Brown, a board member of the NAACP, said at a news conference on Saturday. He went on to criticize Trump for “not showing up for our civil rights.”

Despite the criticism, Trump decided to go to the opening anyway as several protesters gathered nearby with signs that read, “Make America Civil Again” and “Lock Him Up.” Seemingly aware of the controversy over his attendance, Trump kept an unusually low profile throughout the event, delivering 10 minutes of prepared remarks, going on a private tour, and avoiding the main ceremony where hecklers would have been an almost certainty.

During his speech, Trump said Martin Luther King, Jr was “a man I have studied, watched, and admired for my entire life.” He also praised the museum. “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,” Trump said. “And it’s big stuff. That’s big stuff. Those are very big phrases, very big words,” he added in what seemed to be one of the few off the cuff phrases of his remarks.In

In the end, “he spent more time getting to Jackson than he did on the ground,” notes the Associated Press.

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