George Clooney Donating $500K to Equal Justice Initiative in Honor of Juneteenth
George Clooney sarcastically said he was donating in honor of President Trump "making Juneteenth famous"
George Clooney is opening up his wallet for a good cause.
The actor, 59, will be donating $500,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative, he tells PEOPLE in a statement.
Clooney said his donation was a response to President Donald Trump's claim that he made Juneteenth — a longstanding holiday that marks the end of slavery — "famous."
"Thank you President Trump for 'making Juneteenth famous.' Much like when Bull Connor made 'Civil Rights' famous. My family will be donating 500 thousand dollars to the Equal Justice Initiative in honor of your heroic efforts," Clooney's statement reads.
Connor was a historically strong opponent of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.
Clooney's remarks come after Trump boasted to the Wall Street Journal in a recent interview that he made the June holiday "very famous" while discussing his controversial decision to host a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday, June 19, amid ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. The rally was eventually moved to the next day, but will still be held in Tulsa, the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre.
"I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous," he told the newspaper. "It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it."
This isn't Clooney's first time speaking out about the issue of systemic racism in America.
The actor began by recalling the events of 1992 when a jury acquitted four white LAPD officers of the violent beating of Rodney King, a black construction worker.
Clooney also honored Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Laquan McDonald and Floyd, people of color who were all killed by police brutality.
"We don’t know when these protests will subside. We hope and pray that no one else will be killed. But we also know that very little will change," Clooney wrote.
"The anger and the frustration we see playing out once again in our streets is just a reminder of how little we’ve grown as a country from our original sin of slavery," Clooney continued. "The fact that we aren’t actually buying and selling other human beings anymore is not a badge of honor."
The Up in the Air star called for "systemic change in our law enforcement and in our criminal justice system," as well as fairness in the justice system that treats all "citizens equally."
When faced with the question of what to do next following protests, Clooney said it was imperative to remember "we created these issues so we can fix them ... And there is only one way in this country to bring lasting change: Vote."
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
- ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
- National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.