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Trump Honors Activists at New Civil Rights Museum; Trump Rallies for Accused Child Molester Roy Moore. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired December 9, 2017 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[12:01:54]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Hello again, everyone and welcome this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

At any moment now, we hope to hear the remarks coming from the president of the United States as he is now in the midst of a private tour at the nation's newest Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, Mississippi.

More than 100 protesters we understand are outside while inside the president gets his personal tour there. Tensions have been high for the president's visit as many top civil rights leaders and prominent African-Americans have chosen to stay away.

Among them congressman and civil rights icon, John Lewis, who has called Trump's visit a mockery of the civil rights movement. The president already busy tweeting this morning, not about this moment, but instead about a crucial Alabama Senate election not far away.

Now just three days away from that special election, Trump urging people in Alabama to vote for embattled Senate candidate and accused child molester, Roy Moore. Here's what he said last night at a rally 25 miles from the Alabama state line.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We can't afford to have a liberal Democrat, so get out and vote for Roy Moore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So that was in Pensacola last night, but now the president is in Jackson, Mississippi and of course, we'll take you live again to Jackson, Mississippi the Civil Rights Museum when the president begins his remarks.

Athena Jones is at the opening of that Civil Rights Museum. So, Athena, what more can you tell us about the plan for the president and how he is being greeted?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. Well, according to the notes we're getting from the small pool of reporters that are following him, he has concluded the tour inside this museum. He saw several exhibits.

He saw an exhibit on other freedom riders who desecrated interstate bus transit and he also saw an exhibit (inaudible), the murdered civil rights activist whose widow will be speaking as part of this program today.

And in a few minutes time, we expect to see him address a small group of folks gathered inside this museum, civil rights veterans, museum patrons and elected officials. He is not, Fred, as you know taking place in the fanfare outside the museum right here on this plaza.

He will not be speaking as part of this program. And his invitation by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has drawn a lot of criticism. There are a lot of folks who say that this president has not been a unifier, he has been a divide, and he has not been strong in protecting civil rights.

He has been criticized in fact for racial insensitivity in the past. Listen to what the NAACP CEO and President Derrick Johnson had to say about this on "ERIN BURNETT" last night. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DERRICK JOHNSON, NAACP PRESIDENT: This attendance is a distraction from us having an opportunity to honor true Americans who sacrificed so much to ensure that democracy worked.

[12:05:01] And it is unfortunate and is an affront to those individuals who fought for voting right to ensure that people had quality education and access to health care will be celebrated. Those are principles this president do not support.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: And so the NAACP is skipping this event. They held a separate event to mark this day a little while ago with a lot of attendees including the mayor of Jackson. You mentioned several local politicians and also U.S. congressmen have decided to skip this event in protest.

Among those U.S. Congressman Benny Thompson, who is from right here in Mississippi and also John Lewis, the representative from Georgia, who is a civil rights icon, beaten during the bloody Sunday march, voting rights march in Selma, Alabama in 1965. They are still included in the program. They pulled out only a couple of days ago.

And you heard from Derrick Johnson some of the issues he has with President Trump being included here. Benny Thompson and John Lewis echoed some of that saying that his attendance and hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this Civil Rights Museum.

They say it's an insult to the legacy of several civil rights activists and they are encouraging folks to visit this museum after he leaves. I believe we are hearing him begin speaking now.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I also want to recognize Secretary Ben Carson and his wonderful wife, Candy, for joining us. Thank you. Thank you, Ben and Candy.

I especially want to thank you, Justice Ruben Anderson, a great man with a great reputation, even outside of the state of Mississippi. I have to tell you than about you that. Thank you very much. You are an inspiration to us all. Thank you, Judge.

And we're here today to celebrate the opening of two really extraordinary museums. And I just took a tour, the Mississippi State History Museum and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. To all who helped make these wonderful places possible, we are truly grateful. We thank you. We admire you. It was hard work. It was long hours. A lot of money.

And I know that the governor helped with that. That was a great thing you've done. This is a great legacy, Phil, right there. Just that in itself. But it really is a beautiful, beautiful place and it is an honor. These museums are labors of love. Love for Mississippi, love for your nation. Love for God-given dignity written into every human soul.

These buildings embody the hope that has lived in the hearts of every American for generations. The hope in a future that is more just and more free. The Civil Rights Museum records the oppression, cruelty and injustice inflicted on the African-American community, the fight to end slavery, to breakdown Jim Crow, to end segregation, to gain the right to vote, and to achieve the sacred birthright of equality.

That is big stuff. That is big stuff. Those are very big phrases, very big words. Here we memorialize the brave men and women who struggle to sacrifice and sacrificed so much so that others might live in freedom. Among those we honor are the Christian pastors who started the civil rights movement.

In their own churches preaching like Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., a man that we've studied and watched and admired for my entire life. That we're all made in the image of our lord. Students like James Meredith who were persecuted for standing up to their right to the same education as every other American student.

Young people like the nine brave students who quietly sat, and they sat very stoically, but very proudly at the Jackson Public Library in 1961, and by the way, I would add the word very bravely.

And finally, martyrs like Sergeant Medgar Wiley Evers, whose brother I just met at the plane, and who I liked a lot. I have to -- stand up, please. Come on, stand up. You were so nice. I appreciate it.

[12:10:08] You were so nice. Thank you very much. Medgar joined the U.S. Army in 1943 when he was 17 years old and he fought in Normandy and when he came back home to Mississippi, he kept fighting for the same rights and freedoms that he had defended in the war.

Mr. Evers became a civil rights leader in his community. He helped fellow African-Americans register to vote, organize boycotts, and investigated grave injustices against very innocent people. For his courageous leadership in the civil rights movement, Mr. Evers was assassinated by a member of the KKK in the driveway of his own home. We are deeply privileged to be joined today by his incredible widow, somebody that is loved throughout large sections of our country, beyond this area.

So, I just want to say hello to Merle. Where are you? How are you? Thank you. So much. Highly respected. Thank you. Thank you and his brother, Charles. Thank you, Charles, again. For decades, they have carried on Medgar's real legacy and a legacy like few people have and few people can even think of.

And I want to thank them for their tremendous service to our nation. Less than a month before Mr. Evers' death, he delivered a historic televised address to the people of Jackson on the issue of civil rights.

In that speech he said the following, the African-American has been here in America since 1619. This country is his home. He wants to do his part to help make the city, state and nation a better place for everyone regardless of color or race.

Medgar Evers loved his family, his community and his country, and he knew it was long past time for his nation to fulfill its founding promise to treat every citizen as an equal child of God.

Four days after he was murdered, Sergeant Evers was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. In Arlington, he lies besides men and women all races, backgrounds and walks of life who have served and sacrificed for our country.

Their headstones do not mark the color of their skin, but immortalize the courage of their deeds. Their memories are carved in stone as American heroes. That is what Medgar Evers was. He was a great American hero.

That is what others honored in this museum were, true American heroes. Today, we strive to be worthy of their sacrifice. We pray for inspiration from their example. We want our country to be a place where every child from every background can grow up free from fear, innocent of hatred, and surrounded by love, opportunity and hope.

Today, we pay solemn tribute to our heroes of the past and dedicate ourselves to building a future of freedom, equality, justice, and peace. And I want to congratulate your great governor and all of the people in this room who were so inspirational to so many others to get out and get this done.

This is an incredible tribute. Not only to the state of Mississippi, a state that I love, a state where I've had great success, this is a tribute to our nation at the highest level. This is a great thing you've done. And I want to on congratulate you and just say God bless you and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you all very much.

[12:15:10] WHITFIELD: All right. The president of the United States there in Jackson, Mississippi at the new Civil Rights Museum at the invitation of the Governor Phil Bryant there. And the president, of course, paying homage and tribute to the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement, many of whom are Mississippians who are being honored there.

He mentioned by name everyone from James Meredith to Medgar Evers and his widow there in the audience who later on in the program is expected to actually have her remarks. And then the president there -- OK. He's still in the room. Almost looked like he was making a quick exit but shaking hands.

He did mention that he had a private viewing there of the museum. It's a new structure of two buildings, a history, Mississippi new History Museum and as well as a Civil Rights Museum there. And of course, his plans there change considerably within the past 24 to 48 hours.

Largely in part because some iconic figures and foot soldiers of the civil rights movement who were on the program decided not to be in attendance because the president of the United States would be there among them Congressman John Lewis.

Athena Jones is outside the museum and Athena, you can tell us more about the program that was modified and changed as a result of much consternation from those who were invited to attend who said that the president's presence was antithetical to the symbol of this Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

JONES: Hi, Fred. You mentioned Merle Evers Williams who is Medgar Evers widow. She will be delivering a speech as part of this program shortly. She has said that she plans to address President Trump's attendance and invitation to this museum opening. So, we'll have to see what she has to say.

But, yes, he heard the president's remarks there after that tour about 15 minutes honoring as expected civil rights icons and activists who fought for civil rights here in the state of Mississippi.

He mentioned James Meredith who desegregated the University of Mississippi in 1962. He spent a lot of time talking about Medgar Evers who assassinated in Jackson in 1963. One thing that I thought was notable about his remarks was that he talked about people fighting against slavery and trying to end slavery.

And what is interesting, a lot of the criticism the president has gotten from activists and politicians say that he hasn't done a lot to protect or promote civil rights.

And they point to the fact that he has endorsed an Alabama Senate candidate, Roy Moore, who when asked when America was last great pointed to slavery times. He said when the families were united even though we had slavery.

You've also heard activists say that they are disappointed that the president was invited to this event because he questioned the legitimacy of the first African-American president and a long list of grievances they have with this president including the Voter Integrity Commission that many feel is meant to suppress voting rights.

So, a lot of issues. And that may be one reason that he is not taking part in this larger program. He wanted do an event inside with a smaller group and now that tour has concluded. The speech has concluded and we expect him to depart shortly -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: OK. Athena, thank you so much. We're going to check back with you. Polo Sandoval is also outside the museum there. Athena, you know, talked about many who have decided to protest by not being there at all, others have chosen to protest by being there very close to the proximity of the museum. What are they saying? I see some are holding signs.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. And not just by being here, but by turning their backs on President Trump's motorcade should they have an opportunity to see him, but during that inbound trip, that certainly did not happen.

The president being taken to the museum. So, these anti-Trump demonstrators not able to put that message on display for the president himself. However, they are here, you can see there a long line of demonstrators saying that they are using this trip here as afternoon opportunity to have their message heard.

One saying that he is not welcome even though he was invited by local officials, but I counted a little over 100 people who have come here, who have been here for several hours, who feel that the president's positioning on racism, on segregation isn't perhaps as forward, as aggressive as they would like to see from their commander-in-chief.

[12:20:08] But again, they do call this a success even though it is a relatively small but vocal crowd particularly in a state like Mississippi -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Polo Sandoval, we'll check back with you. Thank you so much.

Let's talk more about what is transpiring there in Jackson, Mississippi and overall what does it mean for this nation. I want to bring in California Representative John Garamendi. Good to see you, Congressman.

So, your reaction to what's taking place there. The president paying solemn tribute to the foot soldiers of the Civil Right Museum, many of whom from Mississippi are being honored at the new Civil Rights Museum. At the same time, you have protesters outside who are showing that they are not happy that the president is there. What are your thoughts?

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN GARAMENDI (D), CALIFORNIA: I'm just really conflicted. Certainly, this museum and the men and women that fought so hard for civil rights and voting rights should be honored, and it is good that the president did it. He read a speech that was OK.

But in his heart, he is really a different man. The hypocrisy is so apparent. Yesterday he endorsed a fellow known to have racial bigotry, who was twice removed from the Supreme Court of Alabama for ignoring the federal laws and the Constitution of the United States, the separation of church and state. It goes on and on.

Everybody talking about the issue of child molestation. The hypocrisy is so apparent. The civil rights movement is so important, and John Lewis and Benny Johnson laid it out perfectly. They laid it out there that the inconsistency just has to be unacceptable.

WHITFIELD: And in fact, I'll read you a short portion of their statement which is lengthy in detail. But a portion from Congressman John Lewis and Bennie Thompson saying, "President Trump's attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum.

The struggles represented in this museum exemplify the truth of what really happened in Mississippi. President Trump's disparaging comments about women, the disabled, immigrants, and National Football League players disrespect the efforts of Fannie Lou Hamer, Aaron Henry, Medgar Evers, Robert Clark, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and countless others who have given their all for Mississippi to be a better place."

So, you know, while it is one thing for the president to be there to pay homage to a place deserving of Mississippi and deserving of those who are being honored, and are helping to educate people about the sacrifices made in Mississippi and beyond.

Would it have been any different or better had the president made some kind of remarks that were a reflection of being enlightened particularly to those who are contesting his track record in step with being there that perhaps had he been a bit more transparent, might that have helped the bit especially off the heels of his remarks yesterday in Pensacola?

GARAMENDI: I don't know that anything would help hide the hypocrisy. Just take a look at where he started. He said way, way back when he was being contended by others in the Republican primary when they were reading a speech, he said don't listen to the speech, listen to what they say when they are not reading, and we ought to do that.

This is a man that is out and out with his National Voter Commission trying to suppress African-American voters and others. This is a man that has consistently taken on minorities, the very first word out of his mouth as a declared candidate was to take on Mexican-Americans and Mexicans followed up consistently throughout all of his public appearances during the campaign, and now as president going after racial minorities.

WHITFIELD: And your colleague, Congressman, Hakeem Jeffries, said yesterday took it as far back as the '70s under the Nixon administration and you know, housing discrimination cases that involved the now president, but then strictly as a real estate mogul.

GARAMENDI: Well, always actions speak louder than words. The words are good, but they were delivered by a man that is not good. In his heart, he has displayed throughout his years where he is on his feelings towards racial minorities, taking on the previous president of the United States for years saying he was illegitimate as a president because he wasn't born in the United States.

Even though, he in his own words gave that up after he had -- well, just before the election. It goes on and on -- this man makes me upset.

WHITFIELD: And I wonder then -- that brings me to the word genuine, to hear him then talk about this solemn tribute.

[12:25:09] And then based on exactly what you just spelled out, do you believe the president is -- was being genuine today?

GARAMENDI: Absolutely not. By his own criteria, when you read a speech, you are reading somebody else's thoughts. But when you are not reading a speech, that's when it becomes real. Did you hear what he said last night at the rally? He is tearing apart the fabric of the American government when he attacks his own administration. He is leading us down a --

WHITFIELD: When you talk about undermining the intelligence community?

GARAMENDI: Undermining the intelligence community which he has been doing for nearly a year, going after the FBI, undermining all of these things and frankly, being embedded by many of the members of his own party. This is a very, very serious problem. And also, if you --

WHITFIELD: So, what now then?

GARAMENDI: Well, what now is we need to proceed. We need to recognize that what is in that museum, which he just left is the heart and soul of America's future. That is equality for all of us, the ability to vote, the ability to have economic justice and opportunity.

All of those things, this president is tossing aside in multiple ways in his budget removing the educational opportunities in his budget -- and in the tax bill that is coming up, which is a horrible economic social hit upon America giving the top 1 percent and the big corporations 50 percent of a couple trillion dollars and doing what I call the Texas two-step.

And it has already been said by him and congressional leaders that they will come back next year, balancing this deficit by going after the poor, going after the elderly, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, children's health services -- nine million people. It's all of these things ripping the heart out of the opportunity that Americans must have.

WHITFIELD: California Congressman John Garamendi, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate you and your passion and of course, our hopes and prayers are going out to your constituents there in California as they are up against these wildfires.

GARAMENDI: Indeed.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you so much.

Straight ahead, more reaction to the president's speech with our political panel. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

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[12:31:50] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone and welcome back. Thanks so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

It's been about four years in the making and now the grand opening of the nation's newest Civil Rights Museum. And there the president of the United States getting a private tour there in Jackson, Mississippi of the state-funded museum of civil rights there. The president there underscoring in a speech how he was paying solemn tribute to those heroes, Mississippians who are being honored there. Among them, James Meredith, Medgar Evers, and the list goes on.

However, there were many living civil rights foot soldiers who were invited to today's event who did not arrive in attendance. We are talking about Congressmen John Lewis and Bennie Thompson, all of them saying that the president's history is not in step with those who risked so much to produce change in Mississippi and beyond.

Joining me right now is Paris Denard, a CNN political commentator, and A. Scott Bolden, the former D.C. Democratic chair. Both with me now. Good to see you.

So Paris, I want to begin with you because earlier today even before today's remarks from the president, I heard a young Alabama republican say this morning that while he supports the office of the president, he did not support Trump. And perhaps you just heard me talk to Congressman Garamenid who said -- who underscored the hypocrisy in his view of the president being at the Civil Rights Museum. His remarks in saying that it was very upsetting for the congressman.

So, you know, in your view, you know, do you understand criticism from so many now in terms of the president's arrival there at the museum and even his remarks?

PARIS DENARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, thank you for having me on the program. I commend President Trump for going to Jackson, Mississippi at the invitation of the governor and representing the entire United States of America. People forget, he is not just the president of the Republican p arty. He's the president of every single American, every American who voted for him, the millions that didn't include the eight percent African-Americans and the millions that might not have supported him. They might not have supported him now, it doesn't matter.

WHITFIELD: So Paris, I don't think anybody is disputing that. But when people talk about his track record, that is antithetical to the symbolism and content of the Civil Rights Museum, that's what they're talking about.

DENARD: So I think when you look at this from the time -- from the standpoint of in these 12 months that he's been in office, show me where his track record has been anything but supportive of African- Americans specifically. I looked at Garamendi, the congressman who you just had on, I didn't see an overwhelming, beautiful flowing support of the African-Americans in the 6.5 percent that represent his district in Northern California.

So the hypocrisy on his side to even have the audacity talk about President Trump is -- how about he as a sitting congressman do something for the African-American community when it comes to housing which did nothing during the past eight years that he was in power and with the past administration.

[12:35:08] Or how about supporting this tax cut that is going to benefit middle class Americans especially small businesses. And the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs are African-American women. This tax cut is something that's important.

So when you talk about hypocrisy, let's look at what the Congress is doing and what the president is actually doing. Symbolically, Fredricka, it is important for him to be there to recognize the efforts of Mississippi so the word right now --

WHITFIELD: So Paris, and Scott you can underscore because there are current Justice Department, you know, rollbacks that people will speak to under the, you know, first 11 months of the president's office. And then you hear critics who go as far back as the '70s and housing discrimination.

So Scott, are you among those who disagree with the appropriateness of the president being at the Civil Rights Museum?

A. SCOTT BOLDEN, FORMER D.C. DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN: No, I certainly don't believe he should be there. And you watch Paris denied very cleverly pivot. You asked him a question about the president's record on race and he turned to Garamendi, your guest you got it just right.

I'll give you his right on civil rights and his record on oppressing people, black people and brown people. He has a -- he supports the confederate flag. He inconsistently --

DENARD: Wrong.

BOLDEN: -- support white nationalists. He has a voter suppression commission.

DENARD: Wrong.

BOLDEN: He attacks African-American women. And then -- please don't interrupt me. He does that.

DENARD: If you're going to lie about the president --

BOLDEN: I'm not lying about anything.

WHITFIELD: Hold on, Paris. You'll have a moment. BOLDEN: He wants to build a wall to keep Mexicans out. He wants to ban Muslims. This is reality. This is not some of Donald Trump's rhetoric.

And I tell you what, we had a year of Donald Trump and he asked black people what they had to lose? What has he done for the urban agenda, and African-Americans, and poor people and brown people, and even real white people to empower them in this country under his leadership? Nothing.

He doesn't belong at that museum. And if he did go, what would he say? Would anybody believe him? I think not. Because he'd got his rhetoric that he reads from, but the reality is that he's got an abysmal record on race relations and race discrimination and just being a divider, not a uniter. That is my response to Paris Denard.

FREDRICKA: Was it an opportunity that perhaps the president did not make a promise while using the backdrop of the Civil Rights Museum in which to convince his critics that he has the best interests of black and brown people in mind, Paris?

BOLDEN: Well, he certainly -- go right ahead.

DENARD: If you don't want me to interrupt you, don't interrupt me. The important thing is that the president was present. Look, after Hurricane Katrina, President George W. Bush had a lot of people coming out against him, but yet still he went to the ground breaking of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in November 20, 2006.

It was important thing for him to do as he talked about the importance of having that monument that memorial in Washington, D.C. Fast forward, when President Trump in his first visit to a Smithsonian museum, it was the African-American museum.

WHITFIELD: But it's more than a backdrop. I think -- Paris, that's what is being said. It's more than using a backdrop as a great picture opportunity, but there has to be some content that comes with that. So the question was, might this have been a missed opportunity for this president in which to make a promise, convey verbally a commitment that is in sync with the backdrop of this museum in Mississippi.

DENARD: I think his presence there and the words that he uttered was an important step for this country to hear about. Not every speech, not every instance is going to be one for him to make a promise to do anything. But the presence there of this president --

WHITFIELD: And these are live pictures right now and by the way, he is departing Jackson, Mississippi. It was a very brief, very quick private tour and remarks being made there at the Civil Rights Museum. But the (INAUDIBLE) extend.

So go ahead.

DENARD: But Fredricka these are teachable moments for the American people. For all of those people who may have never heard of Medgar Evers, who might not know of the history of Mississippi --

WHITFIELD: And that's what the museum is about.

(OFF-MIC)

WHITFIELD: All right, Scott?

BOLDEN: Yes, here's the deal. He couldn't have made that speech and couldn't have dramatized that whatsoever because just last night, he went to Florida and the Alabama border and asked for people to vote for someone like Roy Moore who believed that America was great at its best during slavery times and that when families were together, when (INAUDIBLE), white slave owners tore black families apart.

(OFF-MIC)

BOLDEN: That's the rhetoric today but the reality from yesterday.

WHITFIELD: And Paris, this is personal for so many people of color in this nation.

[12:40:00] So for you personally then, as you defend the president of the United States whether it be him be at Mississippi today, how do you as a black man defend the president's remarks last night for support of a man who talked about days being great in the days of slavery?

BOLDEN: Exactly. He can't.

WHITFIELD: How do you do that, Paris?

DENARD: Scott, that was --

BOLDEN: Let's listen to him. Let's listen to you trying to defend himself as a black man with Donald Trump. Let's hear it.

WHITFIELD: Hold on, because I do want to hear Paris. Go ahead Paris. I like to hear you response to that.

DENARD: -- my race, my family and my culture and insinuating that my blackness is in question because I support this president.

BOLDEN: I said let's listen to your defense.

DENARD: Scott, there is no defense. Let me clear --

BOLDEN: Exactly it is.

DENARD: I will not defend my black -- Scott, I will not defend my blackness --

WHITFIELD: Well, you don't have to defend your blackness right now. That's not what I'm asking.

DENARD: That's what you just asked me to do. You asked me to defend my blackness. (OFF-MIC)

WHITFIELD: -- who supports someone who is supporting someone who says, days were great when it was in slavery. How do you defend that?

DENARD: So if you want to talk about Alabama, let's talk about the fullness of it. The president endorsed Luther Strange. That's who he wanted to be in this position.

WHITFIELD: But last night --

(OFF-MIC)

BOLDEN: That's another pivot.

DENARD: Last night he made a political judgment to say that he'd rather have a Republican from Alabama voting for the tax cut and his agenda that's going to help make this country great and that includes African-Americans that have the liberal in there who's not going to vote for his agenda.

WHITFIELD: Is it also asking people to dismiss what he said about slavery and greatness also dismiss allegations against him that allege he is a pedophile?

(OFF-MIC)

DENARD: You know what, I'm interested in trying to figure out where everyone was when all of the things that -- you know, when President Obama went down and spoke at Robert "KKK" Byrd as people --

(OFF-MIC)

BOLDEN: He can't answer it. He can't defend the indefensible, Fredricka. Come to me, let me have it.

DENARD: This is not indefensible.

BOLDEN: It is completely indefensible.

DENARD: This is what it is at the end of the day. The president was endorsing Roy Moore for his vote at being a vote for the American agenda that he is trying to promote and that agenda in my opinion is going to benefit the African-American community.

If we went back and looked at every single thing that every Democrat has said, that every liberal has said that has been negative against this black community or our culture, you would find many of those remarks offensive. But what President Trump did last night was say, I would like to have this Republican voting for my agenda to make this country great. And this is an individual whom he did not support in the beginning, it was Luther Strange.

But back to Mississippi which is why we're here today, it's an important moment for the country, it's important for the president to be there and he should show up every single time. If he didn't, Scott Bolden would be screaming at the top of his lungs --

(OFF-MIC)

WHITFIELD: We're up against a hard break, but not because there is the end of the discussion because I really do want to hear more from both of you on this because this is passionate. This is the kind of conversation that's happening right now just about every dinner table and every office in America right now. And it's a conversation that cannot end right here.

BOLDEN: That Roy Moore's agenda was America's agenda and Trump's agenda. He just said that. Unbelievable. It's not my agenda and it's not safe for black people and brown people --

(OFF-MIC)

WHITFIELD: I have to leave it there.

(OFF-MIC)

WHITFIELD: Thank you so much. We're going to have you back because we have to talk about this some more. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:48:13] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome.

We continue to cover the president's visit to a new Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, Mississippi. The president just wrapped up that visit in Jackson after a private tour and then he made remarks. Meantime, tensions were rather high as many top civil rights leaders and prominent African-Americans chose to stay away.

In the president's speech which lasted about 10 minutes, he said he was paying tribute to those who fought and died battling for civil rights.

Joining me right now on the phone to discuss is Corey Wiggins. He is the executive director of the Mississippi branch of the NAACP. And Corey, you were not in attendance. In fact, you and others had a press conference nearly simultaneous to the president's visit there in the Civil Rights Museum. Why?

COREY WIGGINS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NAACP, MISSISSIPPI (via-telephone): Yes. Part of the press conference was really to put the focus back on the intent and the purpose of the museum. This weekend was supposed to be an opportunity for us to focus on those veterans, those civil rights participants who struggled in the movement, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the movement. And the press conference was really focused on putting the attention to them.

But at the same time, the understanding that the president's time here was a distraction from that. And particularly troubles some within -- he's come there to visit a (INAUDIBLE) visit when the policies that is championed by the administration do not align with the values that was exhibited by so many in the civil rights movement in equality and justice.

And, you know, and among those Mississippians who are being honored there at the Civil Rights Museum, you know, James Meredith and Medgar Evers, in his wife Myrlie Evers-Williams is expected to say some remarks there. You know, Michael Schwerner, James Clancy (ph) -- Chaney rather, and Andrew Goodman.

[12:50:01] And the president in his remarks, you know, talked about Medgar Evers among those singling out the sacrifice made as the NAACP leader who was gunned down in his own driveway there in Jackson, Mississippi. Before this event, you were on CNN and you said that, you know, his attendance, meaning the president's attendance, is a distraction from us having the opportunity to honor true Americans who sacrificed so much to ensure that democracy works. Did you have an opportunity to hear the president's remarks today?

WIGGINS (via-telephone): No, I didn't. Once I left the press conference with those who were in the movements of right's veterans, our national president, Derrick Johnson from NAACP and our mayor (INAUDIBLE) the city of Jackson, I went and have been meeting as a matter of fact with the leadership of state conference of NAACP of Mississippi as we've been doing the work of the NAACP, planning our work over the next year, over the next couple of years around fighting for equality and justice.

And so while the president's been here, I've been doing the business of the NAACP to make sure that all the voices of the folks here in Mississippi, particularly the African-American community, is heard as it relates to public policy advocacy and fighting against discrimination in the state.

WHITFIELD: And when will you have the opportunity to go by that museum if you haven't seen it already?

WIGGINS (via-telephone): Yes, I will visit the museum. I mean, I think that's the whole idea, point of this time in this moment. When we think about those folks who made the ultimate sacrifice in the movement and part of the work. And the fact that when we think about the work that we still have to do here in Mississippi, as it relates to the struggle for white inequality, and that work will continue.

But yes, I will go and visit that museum and take the opportunity to reflect, as I hope that the folks do take advantage of that. But at the same time, keeping folks -- keeping on their mind the folks who made the sacrifice in the civil rights movement here in Mississippi.

WHITFIELD: All right, Corey Wiggins, executive director of the NAACP for the state of Mississippi. Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

WIGGINS: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [12:55:30] WHITFIELD: All right, voting is now under way for the CNN Hero of the Year. Here is one of this year's top 10 heroes. Meet Amy Wright.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMY WRIGHT, CNN HEROES NOMINEE: People with disabilities, sometimes the world just passes them by. Having a workplace that makes you feel proud of yourself and gives you a sense of community is something we all want. Most of them are unemployed and we really felt like we wanted to do something about it and it was, like, coffee shop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, guys, good morning. Welcome to the Bitty and Beau's Coffee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on in.

WRIGHT: Other than our two managers, everybody that works at Bitty and Beau's Coffee has an intellectual or developmental disability. We figured out what their skill set was and we plugged them in. Now we have 40 employees.

You made them feel welcome. That's awesome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

WRIGHT: For most of them who have never had a job before, it's really exciting.

(Foreign Language)

WRIGHT: Now trying out his French.

We always say it's more than a cup of coffee, a human rights movement. It's given our employees the respect that they deserve. When you just give them a chance, they can do anything you ask them to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, vote for Amy or any of your favorite top 10 heroes right now at cnnheroes.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, hello again everyone and thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right, President Trump heading back to West Palm Beach, Florida after wrapping up a --