Donald Trump took credit for popularizing Juneteenth, a day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, citing the backlash over his plans to hold a campaign rally on the holiday amid a national reckoning over racism and police brutality.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published yesterday, the president claimed ignorance to the historical significance of June 19, telling the paper that it was ultimately a black Secret Service agent who filled him in on the date’s significance.
Trump’s initial plan to hold a rally on Juneteenth, his first after a three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, triggered intense pushback from critics who noted that Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the rally would be held, has an ugly racial past as the site of one of the worst race massacres in American history. The uproar ultimately prompted Trump to move the rally to a day later “out of respect.”
But the president suggested to the Journal that for all the backlash, news coverage of the rally brought much-needed attention to the date — even though all but two U.S. states officially mark the day, also known as Emancipation Day.
“It’s actually an important event, an important time,” Trump argued, “But nobody had ever heard of it.”
Despite Trump’s claim that the holiday was not well-known, his White House has released a statement — attributed to the president and first lady — commemorating Juneteenth for each of the three years he’s been in office, a fact that surprised Trump when, according to the Journal, he paused the interview to ask an aide if she had heard of Juneteenth.
“Oh really? We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement?” he responded. “Ok, ok. Good.”
Source: Instagram/ Politico