NOTE: THE VIEWS AND OPINIONS EXPRESSED HERE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND SHOULD NOT BE ASSUMED TO REFLECT THE VIEWS OF DEEP SOUTH VOICE OR ITS AFFILIATES.
A presidential visit for the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum? Thanks, but no thanks.
The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum was created to remind us of the struggles of those who fought for true equality in Mississippi and the rest of the country, which is something that 45 has never honored. Here are a few reasons why 45 should not have been invited to attend the opening.
Reason 1: Violation of the Fair Housing Act
In 1973, Trump faced accusations of violating the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by refusing to rent apartments to African Americans. The case was eventually settled out of court, and Trump was not made to admit his guilt in violating the act.
The FHA of 1968 was a follow up piece of legislation to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The FHA prohibits discrimination based on the race, religion, national origin, familial status, or the gender of a person in the sale, rent, and financing of housing. The act led to the creation of the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which provides assistance in funding for homes in a non-discriminatory basis. Both Acts were the direct results of the Civil Rights Movement.
Reason 2: The Central Park Five and Lynching
In 1989, five young men of color were falsely accused of raping a woman in Central Park. The then teenagers were convicted, but in 2002 were exonerated by way of DNA evidence and the confession of the actual assailant.
The teenagers claimed they were coerced into implicating each other to the crime. During their ordeal, 45 (then a private citizen) took out his infamous full-page ad in the New York Times calling for the state to reinstate the death penalty. Let that sink in for a minute.
Those people were later proven innocent, but 45 insisted on calling for their deaths, and to make matters worse, 45 refused to apologize for the ad. Figuratively speaking, 45 called for the lynching of the five young, innocent men. This makes 45 a spectacularly bad choice to open of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, considering the number of innocent people who have been lynched in Mississippi. 45 has also never apologized to the Central Park Five.
Victims of racially motivated murder such as Medgar Evers; Emmett Till; the voting rights advocates James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner; and the 589 lynching victims whose deaths were recorded by Tuskegee, would be devastatingly dishonored by 45’s attendance for this reason alone.
Reason 3: The Voting Rights Act
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed in an effort to counteract state and local governing laws that prevented African Americans from voting. Under the 15th Amendment of our Constitution, a citizen is guaranteed the right to vote. This Act further expanded civil rights in this country, and was one of the driving causes of the Civil Rights Movement. Many Mississippians and people from other areas of the country registered voters in the Deep South.
African Americans voting in local, state, and national elections enables us to have a say in how we are governed. We, along with everyone else in our country, should have an equal voice in how the country is run. To diminish the effect of any person or group’s vote is a direct violation of the Act.
During his campaign, 45 repeatedly claimed that there was continuing widespread voter fraud being overlooked in our country. A claim that has yet to be substantiated. 45 even continued to tout the claim after he was declared president. 45 has also thrown his support behind the use of certain measures, like voter ID laws that can be used to prevent or restrict people from voting.
Reason 4: Hate Speech and Suppressing Protected Free Speech
45 kicked off his campaign by stating that Mexico was sending people illegally into this country to commit crimes like selling drugs and raping women. 45 repeatedly restated that sentiment which fed the fear of undocumented people in an effort to gain support. Slogans like “Build the wall!” and “Make America great again!” (MAGA) were chanted repeatedly during his rallies, and if someone appeared to protest, 45 stated very clearly that the protesters should be assaulted and thrown out by his supporters, which did happen. 45 also promised that he would pay the legal fees of anyone who could be arrested for the assault, before backing out of that promise when a supporter actually was arrested for assault.
Let us not forget 45’s call back to “the good old days,” when he said it was normal to treat protesters “very, very rough.” The MAGA mantra became a calling card to all of 45’s followers who missed the times when life was simple, and everybody felt safe in their homes, and had jobs. It was also a call back to a message with a hidden and ugly meaning.
All of the stated reasons above illustrate why 45 has no business attending the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. Most of what 45 has said or done is in direct opposition to what the Civil Rights advocates of the past fought so hard for. 45 has been actively trying to undo their work, and his appearance would be a slap in the face to us – the people who are resisting him here and now –, and it would insult memory of those who suffered, fought, and died for our dignity.
To hope that 45 learns how to show sympathy for the Civil Rights Movement during his visit is a very naive hope, especially when he has shown a complete lack of respect for people of color, women, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community.
45, go play golf.