The White House is pushing back against claims that President Donald Trump is using the Juneteeth celebrations as a way to antagonize the Black community by holding his first post coronavirus rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Instead, they are insisting that June 19 is a “meaningful day” to him.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Thursday that there was no racial malice behind Trump’s decision to resume his rallies that were canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Critics charged that Trump was mindful of the date and its importance.
Hard to view this as anything but deliberate. Trump and his alt-right crew salt the wounds of our ugly racial history to activate the ID of his white conservative followers and to try to send a shiver of fear down black folks’ spines. But this theater of horrors won’t work. Ever. https://t.co/gdfk048tXm
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) June 11, 2020
Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, is a holiday that marks the actual day slaves learned they were emancipated.
Tulsa, Oklahoma is where over 300 African Americans were killed and thousands more displaced as the once-prosperous Greenwood District, called Black Wall Street by locals, was set ablaze by a mob of white people in 1921.
McEnany claimed that Trump would use his time on the campaign stump to share what he has done for the African American community. She cited low unemployment rates, the criminal reform bill FIRST Step Act and his commitment to HBCU funding.
“The African American community is very near and dear to his heart. At these rallies he often shares the great work he has done for minority communities,” McEnany said. “He’s working on rectifying injustices … So, it’s a meaningful day to him, and it’s a day where wants to share some of the progress that’s been made as we look forward and more that needs to be done.”
Trump’s own actions contradict his supposed affection for the African American community. He has never apologized for the full-page ads he took out in 1980 in which he advocated the death penalty for the then Central Park Five, the five Black and brown teens who were ultimately proven innocent of raping a woman in Central Park.
He and his father were also accused of refusing to rent to Black people. He has also recently refused to even consider renaming military bases that carry the names of Confederate generals and does not support the removal of the statues occurring nationwide.
Trump was also one of the most prominent spokesmen for the so-called ‘birtherism’ movement which questioned where President Barack Obama was born during his election campaign.
Many now believe that Trump is weaponizing the nation’s ugly history against the Black community.
This isn't just a wink to white supremacists—he's throwing them a welcome home party. https://t.co/lUXpnUoFQU
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 11, 2020
“This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists — he’s throwing them a welcome home party,” Sen. Kamala Harris tweeted Thursday.
Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. Al Green also called out POTUS.
A Trump rally with rebel flags (a symbol of slavery and racism) in Tulsa, OK (the place of #TulsaMassacre) on Juneteenth (a day of emancipation recognition) is more than a slap in the face to African Americans; it is overt racism from the highest office in the land. #RejectRacism
— Congressman Al Green (@RepAlGreen) June 11, 2020
“Trump rally with rebel flags (a symbol of slavery and racism) in Tulsa, OK (the place of #TulsaMassacre) on Juneteenth (a day of emancipation recognition) is more than a slap in the face to African Americans; it is overt racism from the highest office in the land. #RejectRacism,” he tweeted.
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