Donald Trump has dismissed the legacy of Rep. John Lewis following his death, saying the civil rights icon made a ‘big mistake’ not coming to his inauguration.
The president made the comments as Lewis lay in state at the Capitol last Tuesday. Asked about the late civil rights activist’s legacy Trump replied: ‘Nobody has done more for Black Americans than I have.’
Longtime Congressman Lewis, whose bloody beating at Selma helped galvanize opposition to racial segregation, died on July 17 and was laid to rest last Thursday. Former president Barack Obama eulogized him at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also addressed mourners.
But Trump stayed away and instead refused to say whether he thought Lewis’ life was impressive in an interview with Axios. He also did not visit the late Congressman’s body as he lay in state.
Donald Trump has dismissed the legacy of Rep. John Lewis following his death, saying the civil rights icon made a ‘big mistake’ not coming to his inauguration. The president made the comments as Lewis lay in state at the Capitol last Tuesday
Longtime Congressman Lewis, whose bloody beating at Selma helped galvanize opposition to racial segregation, died on July 17 and was laid to rest last Thursday
Asked how history will remember Rep. Lewis Trump replied: ‘I really don’t know. I don’t know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration. I never met John Lewis, actually, I don’t believe.’
Lewis did not attend Trump’s inauguration and had previously said he did not see the billionaire businessman as as a ‘legitimate president’ because of alleged Russian interference in the election.
When Trump later complained about immigrants from ‘s***hole countries,’ Lewis declared, ‘I think he is a racist… we have to try to stand up and speak up and not try to sweep it under the rug.’
Speaking in front of the American flag-draped casket bearing John Lewis’ body at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Thursday, Former President Barack Obama said he owed a great debt to his ‘mentor’ Lewis and his forceful vision of freedom
President Barack Obama walks alongside US Representative John Lewis, second left, one of the original marchers, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama
Probed on if he thought Lewis’ life and story was impressive the president replied: ‘He didn’t come to my inauguration. He didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches. And that’s OK. That’s his right. ‘
‘And, again, nobody has done more for Black Americans than I have.’
‘He should have come. I think he made a big mistake.
‘I can’t say one way or the other. I find a lot of people impressive. I find many people not impressive.’
In 1965, Lewis was beaten by Alabama state troopers in the city of Selma in what became known as ‘Bloody Sunday.’ He inspired others with calls to make ‘Good Trouble.’
Trump did say he would have ‘no objection to’ renaming the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama where Lewis was beaten after the civil rights leader.
The president added: ‘I would have no objection to it, if they’d like to do it, would have no objection to it whatsoever.’
Democratic Rep. John Lewis (R) of Georgia speaks to US President Barack Obama during his inauguration as the 44th US president at the Capitol in Washington on January 20, 2009
Lewis did not attend Trump’s inauguration, pictured, and had previously said he did not see the billionaire businessman as as a ‘legitimate president’ because of alleged Russian interference in the election
Speaking at his service Obama, who awarded Lewis the Medal of Freedom in 2011, said he owed a great debt to his ‘mentor’ and his forceful vision of freedom and that Lewis would be a ‘founding father of a fuller, better, fairer America’.
He said Lewis was an American whose faith had been tested ‘again and again to produce a man of pure joy and unbreakable perseverance’.
‘Americans like John… liberated all of us. America was built by people like them. America was built by the John Lewises,’ Obama said.
Both Bush and Clinton both spoke of Lewis’ humble beginnings on a farm in Troy, Alabama, to becoming a leader of the civil rights movement and ultimately the man known as the ‘conscience of Congress’.
Trump paid tribute to Lewis after returning from a spot of golf with Senator Lindsey Graham earlier in the day. ‘Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing. Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family,’ Trump tweeted.
Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton eulogized John Lewis during his funeral service in Atlanta, Georgia on Thursday, capping a week of memorial services and tributes to the civil rights pioneer
Former President Barack Obama is scheduled to give the eulogy for Lewis who died on July 17 at age 80 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are also slated to speak
His funeral followed a week of memorial services. The coffin bearing his body was escorted across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on Sunday, decades after his ‘Bloody Sunday’ beating there drew a national spotlight to the struggle for racial equality.
On Monday, his casket was taken to the US Capitol in Washington where it lay in state through Tuesday.
Lewis, who spent more than three decades in Congress, died at the age of 80 after a battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He was the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists, a group led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that had the greatest impact on the movement.
The Georgia congressman had been battling the cancer since December and died after receiving hospice care in Atlanta.