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MS Civil Rights and History Museums Openings, Part 1: Missed Opportunities for Some Leaders

This is a editorial opinion piece.   This editorial is copyrighted. Sharing is fine, as long as it’s entirety and linked back to this site with credit given. Thanks.

I am a life-long Mississippian. Today, in watching and listening to various local TV stations to the controversial opinions surrounding the opening of these 2 amazing museums, I was struck by the well stated words of so many (such as William Winter and the great Myrlie Evers-WIliams,) and the hugely missed opportunities of others.

By boycotting this event, members of NAACP, state representatives, the mayor and many others, missed a glowing chance to stand strong in the face of an event that challenged and affronted their sense of justice: namely, the attendance and speech of President Trump.

The mayor of Jackson, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Esq., stated in an earlier press conference that reasons for not attending the opening were to (writing from memory here) “to stand in principle, in accordance with the ideals of the civil rights movement.” By not sharing the stage, he stated that there would be no opportunity for photos to be taken (with these leaders) and then be used by the Trump administration.

I get that. However, it seemed to me that these leaders missed a chance to stand their ground, showing that the single person that is Donald Trump could not chase them away from something that was always meant to include them. Could it be, that their presence, standing in unity, but away from the POTUS (who actually spoke inside the museum, not at the main stage), would have said so much more than boycotting? Why did they give their power away and miss a chance to be here in the flesh, showing that no one person can interfere with their decision to be a part of this?

Boycotts work when the withholding of something will actually be detrimental to the “other side”. Boycotting this event did nothing to the “other side” except to allow them to be here unchallenged by opposing representation.

Have we not grown past boycotts? Are we not strong enough to meet face-to-face and nose-to-nose, and to speak our concerns and to hold our positions?  What Mississippi has been through (and is going through still, in many many ways)  requires coming to a table together, a table that will not easily be attended. It will be difficult, it will be emotional, but we must do it and we need all sides physically represented. It will take strong leaders who will not back down.

I think in looking back on this event, the choice to boycott may indeed be regretted.

Likewise, in a huge way, I feel the POTUS, missed a real chance to give a speech in the language of true healing for the people of our state.

Instead he read from a prepared script…and not that well, actually.

His speech basically stated obvious facts about civil rights leaders Medgar Evers and others, and a mentioning a few civil rights events in Mississippi. I wonder if he really even knew about these before today? To echo a remark that (really struck home to me) from Lumumba in his earlier press conference, “We don’t need Donald Trump to tell us what civil rights means in Mississippi.”

How true. Trump doesn’t have any real knowledge. Having to read slowly and carefully, so not as to make a misstep in speaking the names and well known actions of people like hero James Meredith, President Trump sounded more like he was reading a book report.  And, he could not help himself apparently…he just had to mention how successful he is the state of Mississippi (referring to his win here in 2016.)

I ask you, was that remark even slightly part of what this day is about?  Who wrote this speech? Trump could do SO MUCH if he could just get his communication skills on a level of understanding and humility  – and if he could educate himself thoroughly and make some common sense decisions before speaking. He missed a great opportunity today, and I was very disappointed. I had hoped he could remain humble and shine the focus where it was due, without mention of himself.

His speech writers and advisors should be replaced. It doesn’t take too much to know a better way to address the people and the event here. Common sense could have ruled, but lack of thought and need to “be the President” overrode a shining opportunity.

For instance:

Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if President Trump had said something along these lines? (and meant it):

A (Theoretically) Better Speech for Trump at the Opening of the Two Mississippi Museums by


Greetings to the great state of Mississippi, its leaders, and more importantly, to it’s wonderful people. Thank you for allowing me to be here today, at the opening of these two glorious museums,  when I know there are many who frankly, wished I had not attended.

I accept that feeling. And, I applaud the protesters here for sharing their views and demonstrating their right of free speech.  I do see and hear you, and I will do better to see and hear you in the future.

I accepted the invitation of your governor to appear here, not to distract from your event, which has been so long in the planning and building, but to show my gratitude for what you have done. Your museums are beyond any expectation I could have imagined, and I praise your accomplishment here, for it will set a standard that I know will prevail throughout the rest of our nation. That standard being: we cannot run or hide from our history, we cannot sugar coat it or gloss over it, we cannot forget it, for the lessons presented here will help to shape our future, and to do so much to heal our past.

Thank you Mississippi, for allowing me to be here today to share a moment in your great story, to meet state heroes such as Myrlie Evers-WIlliams, William Winter and many others, who have brought forth this prodigious vision of education and unity. The Mississippi Museum of History, and the Mississippi Museum of Civil Rights are astounding places that tell a comprehensive story, one that is both amazing and traumatic. Both of these aspects are vital to explore and to expose, and the forward thinking vision which links these two museums shall unify and set an example for us all.

I know over the next decades, that these two museums will be a catalyst for change and understanding, not just in Mississippi, but throughout the world. The exhibits here are moving, sobering, and staggering in their scope and depth. And today, I am moved, and yes, I have learned.

So thank you, Mississippi, for being the hospitality state that you are, for allowing me to share your great moment, and mostly, for educating me. While I know I will never be able to appease all people as your President, I promise to continue to learn and to listen, for until everyone is heard and our stories are fully told, our nation cannot truly become great again.

May your day here blessed with joy and peace, and may understanding, through education and remembering, be Mississippi’s great lesson to us all.

God bless you, and God bless America.

We won’t ever know what could have happened here if POTUS had used his real power and spoken words such as these.  Instead, it was left to the speeches of William Winter, Myrlie Evers-Williams and others, to give our state it’s glorious opening day, and to set the intention for every one who comes to visit this hallowed ground.

I offer prayers, blessings and good intentions that we all may learn and grow, each in our own way, from today’s event.

Prayers and blessings to our local leaders, and to the President of our great republic, that one day, in the same way our two museums sit side-by-side, we shall all be working together to bring unity and truth, healing and love, peace and harmony to all Americans.

This is a editorial opinion piece.   This editorial is copyrighted. Sharing is fine, as long as it’s entirety and linked back to this site with credit given. Thanks.
















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