July 30 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump exalted U.S. democracy at an event Tuesday commemorating the 400th anniversary of the First Representative Legislative Assembly in Virginia, but brought attention to the "barbaric trade in human lives" that came at the same time.
Trump visited Williamsburg, Va., and took part in the anniversary celebration after a tour of historic Jamestown, and congratulated the state for the milestone.
"On this day in 1619, just a mile south of where we are gathered now, 22 newly elected members of the House of Burgesses assembled in a small wooden church," he said.
"Self-government in Virginia did not just give us a state we love -- in a very true sense, it gave us the country we love, the United States of America."
Trump called on Americans to "vigorously defend those cherished democratic traditions."
But as representative government was born in the colonies, he noted, so was American enslavement of Africans.
"It was the beginning of a barbaric trade in human lives," Trump said.
"We remember every sacred soul who suffered the horrors of slavery and the anguish of bondage."
Trump's appearance was briefly disrupted by Virginia Delegate Ibraheem Samirah, who held a protest sign with the words "Deport Hate" and "Reunite My Family."
"I just disrupted the [Trump] speech in Jamestown because nobody's racism and bigotry should be excused for the sake of being polite," he tweeted later. "The man is unfit for office and unfit to partake in a celebration of democracy, representation, and our nation's history of immigrants."
Samirah was escorted away from the event by police.