Civil rights museum denies Donald Trump's request to visit. Why?

A civil rights museum in North Carolina said both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are welcome to visit, as is the general public. But there will be no special treatment.

Chuck Burton/AP/File
The lunch counter at the former F.W. Woolworth is shown at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, N.C., in 2010. Five decades prior, four college freshmen sparked a wave of civil rights protest by sitting down at the 'whites only' lunch counter.

A civil rights museum in North Carolina declined a special request last week from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, citing what a museum spokesman described as the campaign's "bullying" and "disrespectful" approach.

Mr. Trump's campaign officials had asked the museum to close for at least five hours to accommodate a stop last Tuesday, the same day he addressed a crowd of about 2,000 people at High Point University less than 20 miles away, as Greensboro-based news station WFMY reported.

"Mr. Trump is welcome to come to the museum, just as everyone else, but he's not going to receive any special treatment," Earl Jones, co-founder of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, told the station.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond Monday to questions from The Christian Science Monitor.

Mr. Jones, who served 18 years on the Greensboro City Council and eight years as a North Carolina state legislator, is an attorney who has served as legal counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), according to his bio on the museum website. He said the inquiry from Trump's staff sounded less like a request than a demand.

"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, noting that he had no interest in facilitating what he anticipated would be an exploitative Trump photo-op.

In recent weeks, Trump has been lobbying for the support of black voters, only about 6 percent of whom say they would be "comfortable" with him as president, as the Monitor's Patrik Jonsson reported last month:

Though chided for his temperament and off-the-cuff style, a real problem for Trump has been his courting of so-called white identity voters, some of whom voice stereotypical views about immigrants and people of color. What's more, Trump’s war on 'political correctness,' critics say, has given some Americans free rein to use incendiary racial language in public.

Jones said the museum would similarly decline to show any special treatment to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The museum, which opened in 2010, features the Woolworth lunch counter where four black college students in 1960 took seats at the whites-only counter and refused to give them up, earning their place in history as "the Greensboro Four" and inspiring other civil rights activists to push for change.

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