Donald Trump has pulled the plug on a scheduled visit to the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture for Martin Luther King Day, as his growing feud with civil rights icon and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) continues to simmer.
Without offering many more details, representatives for the Republican president-elect cited “scheduling issues” for his cancellation, which came about after a week of publicly sparring with Lewis, who worked side by side and marched with King at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
Trump added he now plans to visit the museum sometime after he has been officially sworn in as the nation’s 45th president on Jan. 20.
Trump and Lewis have spent the days leading up to his inauguration feuding about his upset win over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the way it may have come about.
A 16-term congressman, the 76-year-old Lewis recently admitted he does not view Trump as a “legitimate president” given all the controversy surrounding his election stemming from Russia’s alleged meddling and manipulations.
Intelligence agencies have concluded Russia is responsible for hacking Democratic groups in the name of harming Clinton’s chances of being elected as the country’s first female president and aiding Trump’s unexpected rise.
Trump responded by tweeting Lewis was all “talk, talk, talk” and no action. He added Lewis should spend more time serving his own district, which he classified as “in horrible shape and falling apart,” despite it being home to several Fortune 500 companies, an airport, and at least two universities.
Lewis, who spearheaded the legislation to found the Smithsonian, has vowed not to attend Trump’s inauguration and a growing number of other Democratic lawmakers have joined him in his boycott.
During his campaign, Trump railed that it has “never been a worse time to be a black person” in America, a contention that drew swift rebuke from politicians all the way up to the White House and President Barack Obama.
“We’ve got a museum for him to visit,” Obama said of Trump’s contentions, adding that the president-elect seemed to have “missed that whole civics lesson about slavery and Jim Crow.”
Trump has since doubled down on his criticisms, though he has seemed to try to soften his direct blows aimed at Lewis in particular.
“Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S.,” he tweeted. “I can use all the help I can get.”
Colleagues of Lewis have been quick to rush to his defense and condemn Trump’s harsh words as widely off base.
“He took action from marching from Selma to Montgomery,” said Donna Brazile, interim head of the Democratic National Committee. “He took action in marching toward men wielding clubs across the Pettus Bridge. They fractured his skull because of the color of his skin. But John Lewis never stopped marching for justice and equality for all people.”
While brushing Trump’s attacks aide, Lewis recounted just a small measure of the personal sacrifices he and other early civil rights leaders have made to the struggle for equality.
“Today, Donald Trump attacked me on Twitter,” he said. “He said that I’m ‘all talk’ and ‘no action. I’ve been beaten bloody, tear-gassed, fighting for what’s right for America. I’ve marched at Selma with Dr. King. Sometimes that’s what it takes to move our country in the right direction.”
Besides Lewis, other Democratic lawmakers who have announced plans to skip the inauguration include Barbara Lee, Ted Lieu, Mark Takano, Jared Hoffman, Mark DeSaulnier, Luis Gutierrez, William Lacy Clay, John Conyers, Katherine Clark, Yvette Clark, Nydia Velazquez, Jose Serrano, Raul Grijalva, Earl Blumenauer, and Kurt Schrader.
[Featured Image by Rick Diamond/Getty Images]