WASHINGTON D.C. (CelebrityAccess) — President Donald Trump and the First Lady announced that they will not attend the 2017 Kennedy Center Honors in order to “allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”
“The president and first lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction,” the White House statement said. “First lady Melania Trump, along with her husband President Donald J. Trump, extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments.”
The decision by the First Family to skip the honors came after several of the 2017 honorees said they would boycott the event if the president attended. Honorees who raised objections include 86-year-old dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, and television producer Norman Lear, who said he would accept the prize, but not attend a reception at the White House.
The President and First Lady have traditionally served as hosts for the gala, which this year marks its 40th anniversary.
de Lavallade indicated her plans to boycott last Thursday, telling the Washington Post that the President's remarks following a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia on Aug. 12 were difficult for her to reconcile.
"In light of the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative that our current leadership is choosing to engage in, and in keeping with the principles that I and so many others have fought for, I will be declining the invitation to attend the reception at the White House,” she said in a statement.
Earlier this month Normal Lear also indicated his plans to skip the reception, Tweeting, "Of course, I'm accepting the honors. What I'm not accepting is the White House reception with @realDonaldTrump."
Following the announcement by the President and First Lady, the Kennedy Center released their own statement to thank the President for his decision.
"In choosing not to participate in this year's Honors activities, the Administration has graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the Honorees," the statement said.
The Kennedy Center Honors will take place this year on December 3rd, with Carmen de Lavallade, Gloria Estefan, LL COOL J, Norman Lear, Lionel Richie as honorees for 2017.