The co-founder of Black Lives Matter Chicago has declined an invitation from President Obama to attend a civil rights meeting at the White House Thursday.
The meeting was described by the White House as a first-of-its-kind gathering of veteran leaders and young activists in celebration of President Obama’s last Black History Month as President.
“What was arranged was basically a photo opportunity and a 90-second sound bite for the president,” said Aislinn Pulley, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Chicago.
Pulley described her frustration with the president in an op-ed for Truth-Out.org.
In the letter, Pulley described the meeting as a “sham” and expressed her dissatisfaction with President Obama and the criminal legal system.
“I do not feel that a handshake with the president is the best way for me to honor Black History Month or the Black freedom fighters whose labor laid the groundwork for the historic moment we are living in,” Pulley wrote.
Other activists invited to the meeting include Al Sharpton, president of NAACP Legal Defense Fund Sherrilyn Ifill and student leader of Concerned 1950 at University of Missouri Deshaunya Ware.
The meeting coincides with the annual White House Black History Month reception Thursday evening. The White House has yet to comment on Pulley’s letter.