(RICHMOND, Va.) — Virginia’s black state lawmakers announced Monday they will boycott an event this week commemorating the beginnings of American democracy because President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend.
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said its members would not attend a ceremony in Jamestown on Tuesday marking the 400th anniversary of the first representative assembly in the Western Hemisphere. “The commemoration of the birth of this nation and its democracy will be tarnished unduly with the participation of the President, who continues to make degrading comments toward minority leaders, promulgate policies that harm marginalized communities, and use racist and xenophobic rhetoric,” the caucus said in a statement.
Caucus members said they will also boycott other parts of a weeklong series of events and have instead planned alternative commemorations Tuesday in Richmond.
Trump, who event organizers say will give remarks Tuesday, is among the state and national leaders and dignitaries scheduled to attend the Jamestown ceremony. The White House didn’t immediately respond Monday to a request for comment from The Associated Press.
When the Richmond Times-Dispatch first reported earlier in the month that Trump would take part in the event, top Democratic lawmakers said they would not attend. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney later resigned in protest from an event planning committee. The move by the caucus comes after Trump’s weekend comments referring to Rep. Elijah Cummings’ majority-black Baltimore district as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”
The caucus’s statement did not specifically mention Cummings but said Trump’s “repeated attacks on Black legislators and comments about Black communities makes him ill-suited to honor and commemorate such a monumental period in history.”
Tuesday’s events are just one part of a yearlong commemoration called American Evolution meant to honor key milestones in the state’s colonial history, including the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first recorded Africans in English North America.