Trump draws protests while honouring civil rights heroes
JACKSON, Mississippi (AP):
United States President Donald Trump has honoured figures of the civil rights movement, some famous, some not, at a ceremony that exposed stark divisions among Americans about his commitment to that legacy.
Trump on Saturday toured the new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the adjacent Museum of Mississippi, both in Jackson. Outside, demonstrators protested his presence, some holding signs that said 'Make America Civil Again' and 'Lock Him Up' and others shouting, "No Trump, no hate, no KKK in the USA." During the opening ceremony, about 25 people stood silently with Confederate battle flag stickers covering their mouths.
Trump spent about 30 minutes at the museums, gave a 10-minute speech to select guests inside and flew back to his Florida estate, skipping the dedication ceremony held outside on a chilly day. He spent more time getting to Jackson than he did on the ground.
In a deliberate voice and rarely diverting from his prepared words, the president sought to honour the famous and the anonymous for their efforts on behalf of freedom and equality. He did not acknowledge the anger his participation had sparked leading up to the dedication.
"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," he said. "And it's big stuff. That's big stuff."
Trump has been accused of harbouring racial animosity, and critics cite his blaming of "both sides" for deadly violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the summer. Trump has also relentlessly criticised NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality largely directed at African-American males.
Trump opened his presidential campaign by branding Mexicans as rapists and criminals, and while campaigning called for a "complete and total shutdown" of Muslims entering the US after a deadly gun attack in San Bernardino, California.