Trump’s request to visit a civil rights museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, was rejected after the campaign was allegedly rude to museum staffers and made special requests that the museum would not accommodate.
The Trump campaign contacted the International Civil Rights Center and Museum over the weekend to schedule a visit for Tuesday, the same day the Republican nominee is scheduled to speak at High Point University, which is not far from the museum. But Earl Jones, co-founder of the museum, reported that campaign staffers were not only “aggressive and rude” but also making special demands, including asking the museum to be closed for five hours while Trump visited.
“The approach, the type of disrespect and approach that they presented to us, pretty much a demand and bullying us to use the museum in their manner, in their way, in their time, it was inappropriate, and I think it’s probably reflective of the type of insensitivity of civil rights and human rights that’s reflective of Mr. Trump over the years,” Jones said.
Jones also did not feel the campaign’s request was sincere.
“That would be my interpretation, photo op, exploit the legacy of the people who sacrificed for racial justice to support the civil rights movement and all it stood for,” he said.
Had Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her campaign made the same requests they would have been turned down as well, according to Jones. Both candidates are welcome to visit the museum as regular patrons, however.
“Mr. Trump is welcome to come to the museum, just as everyone else,” Jones said. “But he’s not gonna receive any special treatment.”
Trump made a blunder with another museum dedicated to Black history this month as well. Last weekend President Barack Obama slammed Trump for his recent remarks that “there’s never been a worse time to be a Black person in America.”
“You may have heard Hillary’s opponent in this election say there’s never been a worse time to be a Black person,” Obama said at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner in Washington, D.C. “I mean, he missed that whole civics lesson about slavery and Jim Crow. But we’ve got a museum for him to visit. So he can tune in. We will educate him.”
Trump acknowledged — incorrectly — the museum to which the president was referring to at a rally in Virginia.
“Today the nation just opened the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, African American Art. It’s really a beautiful place,” he said. “I saw it the other day … And we’re all very proud of it.”
Obama was referring to the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, which just opened on the National Mall in Washington. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, also located on the Mall, is a separate institution.
History of the Civil Rights Center and Museum
The Civil Rights Center and Museum was founded to commemorate four Black North Carolina men who are now commonly known as the Greensboro Four. The young men, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr. and David Richmond, were all students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University who played a large role in what has become a widely known sit-in to protest segregation in Greensboro. In addition to the Greensboro Four, women from Bennett College, a historically Black women’s college located in Greensboro, also joined the protest and took part in the sit-in. (Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc, was a trustee of Bennett for ten years and was given an honorary PhD from the college. Carolynn Johnson, COO of DiversityInc, is currently a trustee of Bennett College.)
On February 1, 1960, the sit-in began at Woolworth store in Greensboro. Protesters sat at the store’s whites only lunch counter and were refused service. About a dozen women from Bennett were arrested on February 4, 1960. The protest grew larger after several days, with over 300 people showing up by the fourth day. On April 21, 1960, students from both A&T and Bennett were arrested for trespassing at an all-white counter at a different store.
Willa B. Player served as Bennett College’s president from 1955 until 1966 and was the first Black woman to be president of a four-year fully accredited liberal arts college. She played an active role in the civil rights activism as well. While an estimated 40 percent of Bennett’s students were jailed for their roles in the protests, Player visited them in jail personally to bring them their schoolwork so they would not fall behind academically.
While it was not the first or only sit-in during the fight for civil rights, the events inspired other sit-ins around the country. The Woolsworth store eventually became the site of what is known today as the Civil Rights Center and Museum.