Ashton Pittman

Trump’s appearance at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is an insult to our state’s heroes

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.
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Saturday’s opening of the new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Downtown Jackson has been something many Mississippians have been anticipating for months and years. In many ways, this (at least partly) publicly-funded tribute is the single most significant acknowledgment ever by the state of its dark – oftentimes bloody – past.
In a state where the majority of voters still support a state flag littered with the stars and bars of the treasonous confederacy, public acknowledgement of the state’s sordid past is hard to find. In fact, Mississippi legislators did not vote to ratify the 13th amendment until 1995 – some 130 years after its adoption. The Klansman who killed three civil rights workers in Neshoba County in the heat of 1964’s ‘Freedom Summer’ was not convicted for his crime until 2005 – some 12 years ago.
So, the people of Mississippi have been anticipating with great intensity the opening of a museum that would, in some ways, serve as a public acknowledgement of our violent, racist past. It is for this reason that the news of President Trump’s presence at the opening ceremony has produced such agony from all corners of the state.
As many of us feared, Mississippi cannot even do this one, simple thing to pay tribute to the black bodies and souls that helped build and shape this complicated place we call home – not without taining the ceremony by including in it a man who has been sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination, who called Nazis and white supremacists “fine people,” and who frequently incites racial strife.
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Picture it.

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