President Donald Trump Reschedules Tulsa Rally 'Out of Respect' for Juneteenth After Criticism
Juneteenth, short for "June Nineteenth" marks the official end of slavery in the U.S.
President Donald Trump has rescheduled a rally planned for June 19 following widespread criticism over the event being held on Juneteenth — the holiday that marks the official end of slavery in the U.S.
Trump announced the move, a rare retreat for the president, on Twitter Friday evening.
“We had previously scheduled our #MAGA Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for June 19th – a big deal,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, however, this would fall on the Juneteenth Holiday. Many of my African American friends and supporters have reached out to suggest that we consider changing the date out…of respect for this Holiday, and in observance of this important occasion and all that it represents.”
The president continued, “I have therefore decided to move our rally to Saturday, June 20th, in order to honor their requests…We have already had ticket requests in excess of 200,000 people. I look forward to seeing everyone in Oklahoma!”
In addition to facing criticism about the date, Trump’s scheduled rally has sparked outrage over its location in Tulsa, Oklahoma, given the president’s long history of making racist statements.
In 1921, the Tulsa Race Massacre saw a prospering African American community — known as Black Wall Street — looted and destroyed by white rioters. According to the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum, 24 hours of violence resulted in 35 city blocks being burned and about 300 deaths.
The devastating true story of racism and destruction has been portrayed in pop culture recently in shows, including HBO's Watchmen, and several documentaries are set to cover the history of the massacre, including an upcoming project produced by NBA star Russell Westbrook.
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"This is not an accident,” political strategist Atima Omara posted on Twitter after the rally was first announced. “Trump is holding his first rally of the campaign on Juneteenth (when enslaved blacks were emancipated) in Tulsa almost a 100 years after the massacre of its black citizens. Forget dog whistle, this is an air raid siren."
Trump's former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci also chimed in, writing, "Trump’s decision to hold a rally in Tulsa, the location of the single worst incident of racial violence in American history, on Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the freeing of slaves, is abhorrent and a wink at his racist supporters. He doesn’t even need votes in Oklahoma."
Meanwhile, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said he is "honored" that Trump chose the state as the return of his campaign trail after months sidelined by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
"We are honored President Trump accepted our invitation to our great state. The President is making Oklahoma his first campaign stop since March 2, and his visit here confirms Oklahoma is the national example in responsibly and safely reopening," Stitt said in a statement.