Nothing says Juneteenth quite like a racist president delivering what is sure to be a racist speech in the very city where a racist riot occurred nearly 100 years ago.
On June 19, President Trump will hold a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, his first since covid-19 social distancing began in March. In addition to concerns that the president is holding a large gathering as a deadly pandemic continues to kill Americans daily, the date and location hold grim significance.
On June 19, 1865, Union Army General Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation—President Lincoln’s order to change the legal status of enslaved Black Americans in Confederate states from slave to free—before a group of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas. By the next year, the date was celebrated among Black Americans in Texas before spreading throughout the south. Whether referred to as Juneteeth, Jubilee, or Freedom Day, June 19 has held significance to Black Americans for generations, but has only found its way into the white mainstream consciousness more recently... as recently as this week, in fact, with businesses now observing Juneteenth as a holiday (sometimes, with the help of agitation from black employees).
Trump deciding to hold a rally on June 19 is one thing, but he’s also holding it in a city that has the distinct honor of being home to the worst massacre against Black Americans in United States history. On May 31 and June 1, 1921, white mobs attacked black residents as well as businesses in Tulsa’s Greenwood District. At the time, Greenwood—also known as “Black Wall Street”—was the wealthiest black community in the country, but this enclave was left in ruins after two days of violence. Approximately 300 people died, and 10,000 were left homeless. And decades’ worth of attempts to rebuild were rendered moot by the 1960s thanks to urban renewal.
Needless to say, Trump hosting a rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth—especially as the mass protests against racism and racist policing continue across the country—is unbelievably pointed, and reeks of Stephen Miller. But remember, “MAGA loves the black people!”