President Donald Trump claimed that before he controversially set a since-rescheduled campaign rally on the holiday, "nobody had ever heard of it"

By Benjamin VanHoose
June 19, 2020 10:38 AM
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Don Lemon has some thoughts on President Donald Trump's claim that he made Juneteenth "famous."

In a new interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump, 74, spoke about his controversial decision to host a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday, June 19, amid ongoing Black Lives Matter protests and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Since Friday is Juneteenth, a holiday that marks the end of slavery, Trump faced serious backlash for the timing, and he eventually rescheduled for Saturday.

With the media coverage surrounding the outrage, Trump boasted to WSJ that he made the holiday "very famous."

"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."

Reacting to Trump's claim that he brought notoriety to Juneteenth, CNN anchor Lemon, 54, said "it's laughable" and "sad" that the leader of the free world wouldn't be aware of the landmark day.

"The president of the United States should know what Juneteenth is, but this president doesn't know, and pretending that he did and that he made Juneteenth famous — everyone knows that that is a farce and that it's what he does on a daily basis," said Lemon. "It is a lie."

Don Lemon and President Donald Trump
Mike Pont/Getty; Alex Wong/Getty

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"He doesn't know about history in general," Lemon continued, "so why would he know about something like Juneteenth when it relates to African Americans and the struggle that black people have had in this country?"

During the WSJ interview, the president didn't recall that the White House had released statement about Juneteenth last year. "Oh really? We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement?" he said. "Okay, okay. Good."

On June 19, 2019, the press release marking the holiday began, "Melania and I send our best wishes for a memorable celebration to all those commemorating Juneteenth."

The official statement called it a "joyous day," concluding, "as we vow always to uphold the God-given rights of all Americans, we pay tribute to the indomitable spirit of African Americans."

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This year is the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth. The Emancipation Proclamation, which abolished slavery, was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on Jan. 1, 1863, but it took until 1865 for the last enslaved people to be freed.

That's because the proclamation only applied to places under Confederate control, but people in Confederate states weren't the only ones who enslaved people of African descent. In fact, there were border states and rebel territories that continued to keep enslaved people. Texas, as a result, actually became a hotspot for enslavers who fled their states with the people they were enslaving.

On June 19, 1865, federal troops, led by General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas, and took control of the state, marking the official end of slavery as the state's 250,000 enslaved people were freed.