On Saturday, President Donald Trump attended the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, a decision that invited a tremendous amount of controversy and scrutiny. Basically, it's fair to say that a lot of people were outraged by Trump's speech at the civil rights museum's opening, not necessarily because of what he said, but over the very fact that he was there in the first place.
As CNN detailed on Saturday, a number of prominent civil rights leaders, black activists, and others have spoken out against Trump's attendance at the museum's opening, condemning the president both for his alleged and documented history of racist and inflammatory behavior and rhetoric.
One very notable example is Dr. Amos Brown, the president of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP, and one of just eight former students of Dr. Martin Luther King in the sole class that he taught at Morehouse College back in 1962. Speaking at a press conference in Jackson, Mississippi, where the new museum is located, Brown sharply criticized Trump, saying he "didn't deserve" to attend the opening.
Since Donald Trump has not stood up for our civil rights in the Congress, neither at the White House, since Donald Trump did not show up when we needed him to speak a word on behalf of blacks who have experienced police brutality, since he did not show up ... to be with us at Selma, where voting rights were suppressed, he does not deserve to be in Jackson for the celebration of the Civil Rights Museum opening.
Brown continued, saying that the stance was not about disrespect for the presidential office, but specifically disrespect for Trump's attitude towards civil rights and black Americans.
"We are not disrespectful of you, we respect your office. But we do not respect your fruits on civil rights," Brown said. "We do not respect your attitude, and your division of this nation. We do not respect your xenophobia. We do not respect your denial of the fact that black people are to be respected for their worth, their dignity, and their rights as human beings."
Throughout his presidential campaign and administration, Trump has made a number of decisions and statements that have stirred discord and criticism from civil rights and racial justice advocacy groups. He launched his campaign with a speech that generalized Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and "rapists" ― despite frequently claiming to be "the least racist person" you'd ever meet ― and his outreach message to black voters basically amounted to "what the hell do you have to lose?"
In its first year, the Trump administration has reportedly cut funding to organizations combating violent white supremacist groups. In the aftermath of the deadly Charlottesville white supremacist rallies in August, Trump condemned both sides of the demonstrations, drawing a rhetorical equivalence between far-right reactionaries and neo-Nazis, and anti-racist counter-protesters.
Criticism of Trump's attitudes towards people of color did not merely arise because of his political career, either. In the 1970s, Trump Management was sued for anti-black housing discrimination, with both Donald and his father Fred named as defendants.
In the course of the case, the government argued that black applicants for Trump properties were given different information about vacancies and prices than potential white applicants, and in some cases had their applications marked with a "C" for "colored." The case was ultimately settled, with Trump admitting no legal wrongdoing, and calling the claims "absolutely ridiculous."
The mayor of Jackson, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, also spoke out against Trump's appearance at the event, saying the legacy of the civil rights movement and its heroes would not allow him, nor many present, "to share a stage with the President." That didn't stop the event from going forward, however, as Trump delivered his remarks at the museum's opening on Saturday afternoon.