Donald Trump cancels Martin Luther King Day visit to national African American history museum

January 18, 2017

 

President-elect Donald Trump has canceled his holiday visit to the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture — losing a chance for much-needed goodwill after his feud with a civil rights leader.

 

The incoming president, who spent this weekend waging a war of words with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), had planned to visit the national museum in Washington, D.C. on Martin Luther King Day.

 

But senior level transition sources told ABC News on Sunday the visit is off due to unspecified “scheduling issues.”

 

Trump is now planning to visit the museum sometime after assuming office, his officials said. The museum did not immediately comment.

 

Trump’s cancellation comes after he spent the holiday weekend publicly combating Lewis, a 16-term congressman who marched with Martin Luther King. In 1965, Lewis suffered a skull fracture during the police crackdown on marchers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.

 

Lewis, 76, told NBC News he does not consider Trump a “legitimate president” and believes it will be "almost impossible" to work with him. The next commander-in-chief then unleashed a tweetstorm on Lewis, saying the veteran activist and lawmaker was “talk, talk, talk - no action or results.”

 

Trump also said Lewis’ district in Georgia was “in horrible shape and falling apart,” a claim with little basis in fact. Although Georgia’s 5th Congressional District has crime and poverty rates above the national average, the area is also home to several Fortune 500 companies — including Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines — as well as Emory University, Georgia Tech and Atlanta's airport.

 

Lewis has said he will not attend Trump's inauguration, and several Democratic lawmakers have joined him in solidarity.

 

Vice President-elect Mike Pence told "Fox News Sunday" he hoped Lewis would reconsider — and he also defended Trump's retaliation.

 

"Donald Trump has the right to defend himself," Pence said.

 

"For someone of (Lewis') stature to use terms like, 'This is not a legitimate president' — it’s just deeply disappointing.”

 

Lewis introduced the original legislation to found the African American museum in 1988 and pushed it for 15 years before President George W. Bush signed it into law. The museum features photos of Lewis speaking at the March on Washington in 1961, as well as his mugshot from his arrest during the Freedom Rides.

 

During the presidential campaign, after Trump said there had “never been a worse time to be a black person” in America, President Obama urged him to visit the museum and brush up on his history.

 

Trump seemed to have “missed that whole civics lesson about slavery and Jim Crow,” Obama said in a September speech at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington.

 

“We’ve got a museum for him to visit,” Obama said.

 

“So he can tune in. We will educate him.”

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