John Lewis
Rep. John Lewis announced Wednesday he would not attend the opening of the Mississippi Museum of Civil Rights as President Trump’s presence would be “an insult” to the civil rights movement. In this photo, Lewis speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 26, 2016. Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

Hours after the White House criticized Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) for not attending the opening of a civil rights museum in Mississippi on Saturday, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) released a statement saying President Donald Trump, who will be present at the occasion, and his administration was “not serious about civil rights.”

Chairman of the CBC, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), said, “From dismantling the civil rights division in DOJ to equating peaceful people who protested racism to Neo-nazis and White Supremacists, they just don’t get it.”

Read the full statement here.

Lewis and Thompson announced Wednesday they would not attend the opening of the Mississippi Museum of Civil Rights as Trump’s presence would be “an insult” to the civil rights movement.

“I think his presence would make a mockery of everything that people tried to do to redeem the soul of America and to make this country better,” Lewis told reporters, New York Magazine reported.

This is not the first time Lewis has locked horns with President Trump. The civil rights icon, who was part of the March 1965 Alabama protest against mass disenfranchisement of African-Americans in the south, questioned Trump’s legitimacy as a president, who in turn criticized the congressman’s district on Twitter, New York Magazine reported. Lewis also refused to attend Trump’s inaugural ceremony.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, in response, said in a statement: “We think it’s unfortunate that these members of Congress wouldn’t join the President in honoring the incredible sacrifice civil rights leaders made to right the injustices in our history.”

She added Trump hopes others will join him in recognizing that the movement was about removing barriers and unifying Americans of all backgrounds.

The civil rights organization, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), also requested the president to stay away from the opening, according to a report in Washington Examiner.

NAACP president Derrick Johnson said Wednesday, “President Trump’s statements and policies regarding the protection and enforcement of civil rights have been abysmal, and his attendance is an affront to the veterans of the civil rights movement.”

Amos Brown, a board member of NAACP, reiterated the sentiments.

“As a freedom fighter and contemporary of Emmett Till, Trump’s visit is an insult. He has never been a supporter of civil rights or equal opportunity or justice,” Brown said. “He’s been silent on civil rights issues, and his silence speaks volumes.”

The reactions to Trump attending the opening come as an aftermath to his various policies and statements such as encouraging police brutality, imposing a travel ban on Muslims from various countries, stirring up conspiracy theories against the country’s first African-American president and criticizing black athletes for protesting racial discrimination during a pre-game NFL ceremony.

He also faced a backlash in August after violence broke out in Charlottesville following a white nationalist rally. Trump said at the time “both side” shared blame for the violence.

Apart from these, last week he retweeted a hateful propaganda from a far-right extremist organization, which sparked global condemnation.