Congressman John Lewis and the NAACP Could Have “Educated” President Trump at the Civil Rights Museum in Mississippi

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The Mississippi State History Museum & the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opened to high-profile news on Saturday and not just because of a love of history for many. The attention comes because of one of the major invitations that had been sent out by Mississippi’s Governor, Phil Bryant. President Donald J. Trump was at the receiving end of that invitation. Trump had made it known that he would be attending and has since given a statement on the “labor of love” that was the museums.

Of course, as with many things in Trump’s 1st year in office, his attendance at this event has brought more controversy than applause.

Trump’s confirmation of accepting the invitation to the museums opened the door for different statements to be made that opposed Trump’s attendance. Congressman John Lewis had already made his statement that he would not be in attendance at the museum opening if Trump was also there. Besides all of the rhetoric saying Trump is a bigot, whether or not Lewis really believes that Trump is an actual racist is impossible to know for sure, but it still feels like politics. Remember, this is the same politician that feels Trump’s presidency is illegitimate and was a major supporter of Sec. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign run in 2016 (after dropping support for her during 2008 when a young Senator Barack Obama was on the rise), while dismissing Senator Bernie Sanders’ civil rights activist record.

In a similar vein to Lewis' protest, the NAACP has planned a separate event for the museum’s opening due to the President’s appearance. This is after they had demanded that Trump skip the original museum event. It does not matter that Trump’s own museum speech was about celebrating and honoring those heroes who had fought for equality and unity.

As much as the respected organization and the civil-rights-activist-turned-politician have the real influence and power to make things happen politically and socially, they should have and should be spending more time negotiating a discussion between themselves and Trump.

It has been written before of how Trump might be able to change the racist narrative that has continued to plague him throughout his time as President. A few healthy discussions with major African American leaders as these, Trump could not only turn this falsehood about himself on its head, a new path could be forged for open dialogue to be had that meanders through the mucky waters of bipartisanship and the perceived idea of racial disunity.

If Lewis and others really hold to the idea that Trump is for some brand of white supremacy, then at what better place and at what better time than at this museum, in Mississippi (with its record of racial disharmony), could they have spoken about their beliefs and how they could move forward in accepting his leadership of this country. Unfortunately, Lewis let pride get in the way of a wonderful opportunity to “educate” Trump in any number of things. It is not to say that an education is even needed, but could it really hurt?

For more of Jerome’s writing, please check out his website. Then, follow him on Twitter and/or like his Facebook page. His Project 21 Black Leadership Network National Advisory Council member page is here. YouTube channel here.