Trump’s trip to state capital today stirs up a mix of feelings among locals

Published 10:30 pm Friday, December 8, 2017

The chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party won’t be at today’s opening of the history and civil rights museums in Jackson, but it’s not because of a protest.

Bobby Moak, a Bogue Chitto attorney, said he didn’t have tickets for the events, which President Donald Trump is expected to attend.

Moak expects there will be protests, though none will be sponsored by the Democratic Party, he said.

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Two distinct museums are being dedicated under one roof. A museum of Mississippi History covers 15,000 years of human habitation. The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum focuses primarily on the years 1945 to 1976, telling about efforts to break down segregation and bigotry, and the violent backlash against that work.

Trump is attending at the invitation of Republican Gov. Phil Bryant.

Moak echoed the words of others who have strongly suggested that Trump’s policies are incompatible with honoring the African-American freedom struggle.

“The governor inviting the president at this time, many people feel it was inappropriate for the occasion,” he said.

Moak said the museum is a first in the nation and a “pretty big deal. Certainly a facility worth a presidential visit,” however, he questions the need for Trump’s appearance on a day that should be focused on the museums and the people represented by the dedication.

He suggests that Bryant may be playing a political card with the invitation and the president’s appearance will take away the positive expectations people had for the day.

He said that like Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of assassinated Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers, he hopes that Trump will not just attend the opening, but pay attention to the content as he tours the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

“I hope that he takes the time to see and to visit and to really look at every exhibit that is in that facility,” he said. “If it’s going to be that reason for the visit, make it a reason for the visit, and not playing some political card.

“But it is what it is. I hope that he takes away from it something he has seen there.”

Bryant, a big supporter of Trump, is urging Mississippians to embrace the visit, a rare presidential trip to Mississippi not linked to a disaster. He told reporters this week that Trump’s presence will bring worldwide attention and give the museums a big boost.

“We are going to celebrate his presence,” Bryant said. “I think he is going to have a testimonial speech that day and it will be a wonderful speech for all of Mississippi. People can lay aside any political positioning or pandering that they may have. This is a day for the president of the United States to come and honor Mississippi and that’s what he intends to do, and I intend to be there with him when he does that.”

Sen. Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven, planned to attend one of the official parties Friday night prior to today’s opening. She didn’t expect Trump to be in Jackson until today and was eager to hear him speak.

However, she was looking forward more to the opening of the museums, which she sees as a great achievement in Mississippi.”

“I’m hoping we won’t be overshadowed by any protests because it is such a momentous event for our state,” she said. “I think it’s a fabulous opportunity to show what we have in Mississippi.”