Trump claimed that he ‘made Juneteenth very famous,’ new book says

Trump Tulsa
Trump’s campaign planned to hold a rally on Juneteenth in 2020, but cancelled it after criticism.

  • Trump said he “made Juneteenth very famous” and “nobody had heard of it” before him, writes reporter Michael Bender.
  • The Trump campaign sparked backlash by initially planning to hold a rally that day in Tulsa.
  • Juneteenth marks the anniversary of the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans in 1865.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Trump boasted that he “made Juneteenth very famous” by the backlash his campaign sparked by inadvertently scheduling a rally on the day in Tulsa, according to a forthcoming book by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender.

The episode and internal drama surrounding was recounted in an excerpt of the book, “Frankly We Did Win This Election’: The Inside Story of How Donald Trump Lost” published in Politico Magazine on Friday.

The Trump campaign didn’t know Juneteenth existed

Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale, who selected the date and location for Trump’s first rally in months, was apparently unaware of the date’s significance in America.

Trump’s announcing the rally’s date to reporters caused massive publish backlash, adding to the mounting criticism Trump had received for his response to the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

Trump didn’t know about Juneteenth history until the blowback to his rally either and, according to Bender, was unaware that the White House had released public statements commemorating the day in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Bender reported that when Trump queried a Black Secret Service agent about whether he’d heard of the day, the agent told Trump it was “very offensive” to him that he’d decided to hold a rally that day. Ultimately, the rally was moved to the next day, June 20.

But in a 2020 interview with Bender, Trump claimed “nobody had heard of it” before his rally and that “I made Juneteenth very famous.”

Read more: Meet the young entrepreneurs rebuilding Tulsa’s booming ‘Black Wall Street’ 100 years after a white mob burned it down

Juneteenth has been celebrated for generations

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, marks the day in 1865 when Union soldiers went to Galveston, Texas to tell the last remaining enslaved Black Americans that they were free. While former President Lincoln Abraham signed the Emancipation proclamation in 1863, it went ignored in many southern states for the next two years.

The holiday has been celebrated for over a century, particularly in Texas, but Juneteenth and the history it represents gained new national prominence in 2020.

Many major corporations made Juneteenth a company holiday in 2020, and on Thursday, President Joe Biden signed a bill passed by both chambers of Congress to make Juneteenth a federal holiday starting in 2021.

Additionally, the location that Parscale selected for the rally, Tulsa, is also the site of one of the deadliest outbreaks of racial violence in United States history.

In the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, a mob made up of white residents, with support from city officials, killed and injured hundreds of Black Tulsans and looted and destroyed countless businesses, eviscerating a vibrant business community – including a neighborhood called Black Wall Street.

In all, the mob is estimated to have killed as many as 300 Black residents of Tulsa and burned down huge swaths of the Greenwood business district. The riot also displaced thousands of Black Tulsans, with the Red Cross estimating that over 1,200 homes in the area were burned down and hundreds more looted.

Read the original article on Business Insider

‘This was not a riot, this was a massacre’: Biden commemorates 100th anniversary of the racist Tulsa attack that killed hundreds of Black people

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, 2021, in Arlington, Va.( Biden on Tuesday will take part in a remembrance of one of the nation’s darkest _ and largely forgotten _ moments of racial violence, marking the 100th anniversary of a massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma that wiped out a thriving Black community

  • Biden gave remarks in Oklahoma to mark the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre.
  • A mob killed hundreds of Black Tulsans and destroyed countless homes and businesses.
  • Biden outlined steps the White House will take to tackle race-based income inequality.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden headed to Oklahoma on Tuesday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the devastating Tulsa massacre, one of the deadliest race riots in United States history.

Biden, along with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge and senior White House advisors Susan Rice and Cedric Richmond, toured the Greenwood Community Center and gave remarks in the afternoon.

As Biden noted, he is the first president ever to travel to Tulsa to mark an anniversary of the race massacre. He received a standing ovation from the assembled audience when he held a moment of silence, and said: “My fellow Americans, this was not a riot, this was a massacre.”

Biden acknowledged that the story of the massacre has “told in silence” and “cloaked in darkness,” for decades adding, “But just because history is silent doesn’t mean that it did not take place And while darkness can hide much, it erases nothing.”

“To all those lost so many years ago, to all the descendants of those who suffered, to the community, that’s why we’re here, to make sure America knows the story in full,” Biden said.

Biden also unveiled new White House initiatives to tackle the racial wealth gap in the US during his speech on Tuesday, which include measures to support Black-owned businesses and combat systemic housing discrimination and redlining.

Read more: Meet the young entrepreneurs rebuilding Tulsa’s booming ‘Black Wall Street’ 100 years after a white mob burned it down

In the 1921 massacre, a mob made up of white residents, with support from city officials, killed and injured hundreds of Black Tulsans and looted and destroyed countless businesses, eviscerating a vibrant business community including a street dubbed Black Wall Street.

The massacre followed mounting racial animus towards Black Americans, a resurgence in the presence of white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan, and aggressive efforts to disenfranchise and segregate Black citizens in the state during the Jim Crow era.

The incident itself was set off after a white female elevator operator accused a 19-year-old Black shoeshiner named Dick Rowland, who worked in the Greenwood district, of sexually assaulting her on May 30, 1921. Her allegation prompted a lynch mob to descend on the courthouse where Rowland was being held. The charges against Rowland were dropped after the massacre.

In all, the mob is estimated to have killed as many as 300 Black residents of Tulsa and burned down huge swaths of the Greenwood business district, a neighborhood of the city where Black-owned and managed businesses thrived. The riot also displaced thousands of Black Tulsans, with the Red Cross estimating that over 1,200 homes in the area were burned down and hundreds more looted.

“Hell was unleashed, literal hell was unleashed,” Biden said in his speech.

The history of the massacre was swept under the rug for decades, with local media outlets and scholars discouraged from studying or shedding light on the incident. And, as Insider’s Taylor Ardery reported, the massacre was even excluded from many Oklahoma public school curriculums.

“We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know, and not what we should know,” Biden said, acknowledging the “clear effort” to “erase” the massacre “from our memory, our collective memories, from the news and every conversation.”

Now, local community leaders, advocates, and the few living survivors of the attack are calling on the US to confront the painful history of the attack and are advocating for financial reparations for the lives and businesses destroyed.

City officials are also exhuming gravesites where massacre victims were believed to be buried for archaeological research and DNA testing.

Read the original article on Business Insider

100 years after the Tulsa massacre devastated my hometown, I’ve found hope that Black Americans will soon see justice

tulsa blm
A child runs the the street during the Juneteenth celebration in the Greenwood District on June 19, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when a Union general read orders in Galveston, Texas stating all enslaved people in Texas were free according to federal law.

  • Our country is finally starting to acknowledge our history of racial violence and inequity.
  • Real criminal justice reform is possible under the Biden Administration.
  • We can only unify as a country if we commit to social justice.
  • Senior Pastor Mareo D. Johnson leads the Seeking the Kingdom Ministries in Tulsa.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

In my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and across the United States, Black Americans are concerned about losing a loved one to a police shooting. Police are supposed to protect and serve, but many of us fear being murdered by them. As a pastor, I see firsthand how that fear grips my community. However, I’ve noticed a shift in our country. America has finally acknowledged that we have a policing problem.

Tulsa has a long history of racial inequity and violence. The city’s tragic past is in the spotlight as we mark the 100th anniversary of the racially based riot that destroyed a thriving Black community. As a kid, I grew up hearing about the achievements of those who created the prosperous African American enclave of Greenwood, also known as Black Wall Street. I also heard about the murderous white mob that overran the town in 1921, killing 300 people or more and leaving Greenwood in ruins. Recently our mayor initiated the search for the mass graves from the massacre, a gesture that begins to heal the wounds of our past, and President Biden is planning on visiting Tulsa today to pay his respects.

There’s not a single Black person in Tulsa who doesn’t feel the collective trauma of that racial violence. That fear is not based only on the heinous attack on Black Wall Street, but on the way law enforcement has disproportionately been wielded against the city’s Black residents in the 100 years since.

I helped found the Tulsa chapter of Black Lives Matter in 2016, after the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One of our first actions was to hold a protest against the excessive use of force by police against Black people and to unify the community. Just three months later, Tulsa experienced its own fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man, after an officer opened fire on Terence Crutcher, a father of four who had recently celebrated his 40th birthday. Once again, we held protests calling for justice, this time in our own hometown. But the police officer in that case was acquitted at trial. She later found work again in law enforcement, as a sheriff’s deputy.

Another form of violence in our community is the number of people locked up for petty crimes or simply because they have a drug addiction. In an analysis of Tulsa police data, Black people in Tulsa were arrested at 2 to 2.5 times the rate of non-Black residents between 2012-2016. Instead of receiving rehabilitation for non-violent crimes, they often are put in one of Oklahoma’s many private prisons. These facilities operate as businesses: the more inmates they have, the more money they make. I’ve seen how this has negatively impacted youth in my congregation and in the community. Instead of their parents receiving rehabilitation, they are incarcerated, which leaves them without a mom or dad at home. It’s a terrible system that fuels recidivism.

Tulsa needs social programs that help people like youth recreation centers, vocational education, and mental health and rehabilitation services. We would be a better community if we invested in our people rather than in incarceration, which in the long run would be more cost effective.

This issue is personal for me. I experienced the criminal justice system as an inmate, including serving time in a private prison. I went from being released from incarceration to enrolling in a community college to attending Victory Bible College, where I was able to pursue my calling as a minister. I thank God that I have been able to break the vicious cycle through my faith. The time I spent as an incarcerated person is just one of the reasons why I am passionate about this work and why I’m determined to give back.

Recently, I have had reason to feel hopeful. President Biden’s announcement this year eliminating federal private prison contracts was a first step in keeping his campaign promises on criminal justice reform. Biden’s platform can change people’s lives in my community, and is long overdue. Sen. Bernie Sanders is also pushing President Biden on these important issues. It’s a great start, but it’s only a start.

We need funding for true rehabilitation and real criminal justice reform, like ending mandatory-minimum sentencing. We also need to end cash bail, and to do away with the death penalty. Biden has promised to take all these steps but he hasn’t always been a champion of criminal justice reform. Early in his career, he embraced policies that contributed to mass incarceration. He now seems to be rectifying some of those past wrongs.

Here’s another reason I have renewed hope: In Tulsa – a city that had a racial massacre 100 years ago – our mayor last year hired our first Black chief of police. The work we did this past year paid off because I was able to sit down with the new chief a few weeks ago to discuss our concerns and develop positive solutions, so every member of our community feels safe.

The Biden Administration has shown that it is also ready to make positive change and is committed to unifying our country, which I believe can only be achieved through social justice. There is a lot of work to do, and we must keep demanding more action, but we are moving in the right direction.

Senior Pastor Mareo D. Johnson resides over Seeking the Kingdom Ministries in Tulsa. He is the founder and director of Black Lives Matter Tulsa.

Read the original article on Business Insider

White supremacist groups could attack Tulsa race massacre anniversary events, Department of Homeland Security warns

Tulsa Race Massacre monument
A mural commemorating the 1921 Tulsa race massacre painted on the side of Mad Dog Liquors June 18, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma

  • Monday will mark 100 years since the Tulsa race massacre destroyed “Black Wall Street.”
  • Several events will take place over the weekend, including a visit by President Joe Biden.
  • White supremacists could target the commemorative events in racially charged attacks, the DHS warned.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Monday will mark 100 years since the Tulsa race massacre destroyed “Black Wall Street,” and the US Department of Homeland Security has warned that white supremacist groups might target events commemorating it.

“We assess those upcoming commemoration events associated with the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre in Oklahoma probably are attractive targets for some racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist-white supremacists to commit violence,” the department said, according to a memo obtained by NBC News.

The memo did not mention any specific events, but Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin said that his forces have plans in place to ensure a Monday visit by President Joe Biden goes smoothly.

“We are going to be hopefully overprepared. I want a bunch of policemen working, and my hope is none of them have to take any action, but we are prepared if need be,” he said during a press conference.

Franklin also said that the public should remain vigilant throughout the weekend, and should report sightings of unattended packages and large vans in odd places. “If anyone sees anything suspicious, across our city, report that, ” he added.

Read more: Meet the young entrepreneurs rebuilding Tulsa’s booming ‘Black Wall Street’ 100 years after a white mob burned it down

About 15,000 people are expected to attend commemorative events over the coming weekend, the Department of Homeland Security said.

There will be a candlelight vigil, a nationally-televised ‘Remember & Rise’ event featuring John Legend and Stacey Abrams, and a prayer wall dedication event, according to Oklahoma’s News 4.

The Tulsa race massacre saw mobs of white residents attack Black residents and businesses in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921. Somewhere between 30 and 300 people died, mostly Black people, according to the Britannica Encyclopedia.

The massacre destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the wealthiest Black community in the US, CNBC said.

It has been referred to as the “single worst incident of racial violence in American history,” according to the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt ousted from Tulsa Race Massacre commission

kevin stitt
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt.

  • Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday was ousted from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission.
  • Stitt said his role on the commission was “purely ceremonial” and criticized the move.
  • The governor’s removal comes on the heels of his support of legislation banning “critical race theory” in public schools.
  • Sign up for our daily newsletter 10 Things in Politics You Need to Know Today.

Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma on Friday was ousted from a commission created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, days after he signed legislation that would ban the teaching of some race and racism concepts in public schools.

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, in a statement released on Friday, said that its members met and decided “to part ways” with Stitt, who was elected as governor in 2018. The statement did not cite a specific reason for the decision.

“While the Commission is disheartened to part ways with Governor Stitt, we are thankful for the things accomplished together,” the statement read. “The Commission remains focused on lifting up the story of Black Wall Street and commemorating the Centennial.”

It added: “No elected officials, nor representatives of elected officials, were involved in this decision.”

Stitt’s office said that the governor learned of his ouster only after the statement was released and described his membership on the commission as “purely ceremonial.”

“It is disappointing to see an organization of such importance spend so much effort to sow division based on falsehoods and political rhetoric two weeks before the centennial and a month before the commission is scheduled to sunset,” read a statement from the governor’s office. “The governor and first lady will continue to support the revitalization of the Greenwood District, honest conversations about racial reconciliation and pathways of hope in Oklahoma.”

The division with Stitt came from his support of HB 1775, which is designed to prevent the teaching of “critical race theory,” which seeks to examine the legacy of systemic racism in the US.

Conservatives have argued that the subject matter would teach white children that they are inherently racist.

Read more: The House’s history-making top security official talked with Insider about his plan to reopen the Capitol and ensure it will ‘never, ever be breached again’ after the January 6 attack

The law bans any instruction of the concept that “meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race,” and stipulates that college students cannot be required to engage in “mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling.”

Stitt has defended his decision to sign the bill.

“Now more than ever, we need policies that bring us together, not rip us apart,” he said earlier this month. “Not one cent of taxpayer money should be used to define and divide young Oklahomans about their race or sex.”

Phil Armstrong, the project director of the Centennial Commission, in a separate letter blasted Stitt for his support of the legislation.

“HB 1775 chills the ability of educators to teach students, of any age, and will only serve to intimidate educators who seek to reveal and process our hidden history,” he wrote. “You know that. You seemingly disregarded and dismissed this chorus of voices aligned against HB 1775.”

He added: “How does this law bring us together and codify the concepts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? How do you reconcile your membership on the Centennial Commission with your support of a law that is fundamentally contrary to the mission of reconciliation and restoration?”

The Centennial Commission was formed in 2015 to teach citizens about the 1921 massacre, in which white mobs descended on the prosperous Greenwood district in Tulsa known as “Black Wall Street,” killing as many as 300 Black citizens and wounding over 800 people.

Roughly 35 square blocks of Black-owned businesses and homes were destroyed, according to the Tulsa World.

During the massacre, members of the Oklahoma National Guard arrested Black victims, leaving white looters to pillage the neighborhood that once boasted one of the highest concentrations of Black wealth in the country.

Read the original article on Business Insider

100 years after the Tulsa massacre, prison reform is long overdue in my home state of Oklahoma

tulsa blm
A child runs the the street during the Juneteenth celebration in the Greenwood District on June 19, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when a Union general read orders in Galveston, Texas stating all enslaved people in Texas were free according to federal law.

  • Our country is finally starting to acknowledge our history of racial violence and inequity.
  • Real criminal justice reform is possible under the Biden Administration.
  • We can only unify as a country if we commit to social justice.
  • Senior Pastor Mareo D. Johnson leads the Seeking the Kingdom Ministries in Tulsa.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

In my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and across the United States, Black Americans are concerned about losing a loved one to a police shooting. Police are supposed to protect and serve, but many of us fear being murdered by them. As a pastor, I see firsthand how that fear grips my community. However, I’ve noticed a shift in our country. America has finally acknowledged that we have a policing problem.

Tulsa has a long history of racial inequity and violence. The city’s tragic past will be in the national spotlight later this year as we mark the 100th anniversary of the racially based riot that destroyed a thriving Black community. As a kid, I grew up hearing about the achievements of those who created the prosperous African American enclave of Greenwood, also known as Black Wall Street. I also heard about the murderous white mob that overran the town in 1921, killing 300 people or more and leaving Greenwood in ruins. Recently our mayor initiated the search for the mass graves from the massacre, a gesture that begins to heal the wounds of our past.

There’s not a single Black person in Tulsa who doesn’t feel the collective trauma of that racial violence. That fear is not based only on the heinous attack on Black Wall Street, but on the way law enforcement has disproportionately been wielded against the city’s Black residents in the 100 years since.

I helped found the Tulsa chapter of Black Lives Matter in 2016, after the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One of our first actions was to hold a protest against the excessive use of force by police against Black people and to unify the community. Just three months later, Tulsa experienced its own fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man, after an officer opened fire on Terence Crutcher, a father of four who had recently celebrated his 40th birthday. Once again, we held protests calling for justice, this time in our own hometown. But the police officer in that case was acquitted at trial. She later found work again in law enforcement, as a sheriff’s deputy.

Another form of violence in our community is the number of people locked up for petty crimes or simply because they have a drug addiction. In an analysis of Tulsa police data, Black people in Tulsa were arrested at 2 to 2.5 times the rate of non-Black residents between 2012-2016. Instead of receiving rehabilitation for non-violent crimes, they often are put in one of Oklahoma’s many private prisons. These facilities operate as businesses: the more inmates they have, the more money they make. I’ve seen how this has negatively impacted youth in my congregation and in the community. Instead of their parents receiving rehabilitation, they are incarcerated, which leaves them without a mom or dad at home. It’s a terrible system that fuels recidivism.

Tulsa needs social programs that help people like youth recreation centers, vocational education, and mental health and rehabilitation services. We would be a better community if we invested in our people rather than in incarceration, which in the long run would be more cost effective.

This issue is personal for me. I experienced the criminal justice system as an inmate, including serving time in a private prison. I went from being released from incarceration to enrolling in a community college to attending Victory Bible College, where I was able to pursue my calling as a minister. I thank God that I have been able to break the vicious cycle through my faith. The time I spent as an incarcerated person is just one of the reasons why I am passionate about this work and why I’m determined to give back.

In recent weeks, I have had reason to feel hopeful. President Biden’s announcement this year eliminating federal private prison contracts was a first step in keeping his campaign promises on criminal justice reform. Biden’s platform can change people’s lives in my community, and is long overdue. Senator Bernie Sanders is also pushing President Biden on these important issues. It’s a great start, but it’s only a start.

We need funding for true rehabilitation and real criminal justice reform, like ending mandatory-minimum sentencing. We also need to end cash bail, and to do away with the death penalty. Biden has promised to take all these steps but he hasn’t always been a champion of criminal justice reform. Early in his career, he embraced policies that contributed to mass incarceration. He now seems to be rectifying some of those past wrongs.

Here’s another reason I have renewed hope: In Tulsa – a city that had a racial massacre 100 years ago – our mayor last year hired our first Black chief of police. The work we did this past year paid off because I was able to sit down with the new chief a few weeks ago to discuss our concerns and develop positive solutions, so every member of our community feels safe.

The Biden Administration has shown that it is also ready to make positive change and is committed to unifying our country, which I believe can only be achieved through social justice. There is a lot of work to do, and we must keep demanding more action, but we are moving in the right direction.

Senior Pastor Mareo D. Johnson resides over Seeking the Kingdom Ministries in Tulsa. He is the founder and director of Black Lives Matter Tulsa.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I regret to inform you all that history will not save America from itself

capitol riots confederate flag
  • Pundits keep saying that history will repudiate Donald Trump. But that can’t be guaranteed. 
  • American history often leaves out ugly truths and sanitizes the powerful.
  • If we want history to say something, we need to fight for it in the present.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

I know you’ve been hearing this proclamation on network news and reading it in columns for years.

“History will judge us.” “History will repudiate Donald Trump and the January 6 rioters.” “History will see people like GOP Sen. Mitt Romney as heroes for bucking their own party.” “History will show that the Democrats were people who took a stand for our democracy and our values.”

This sounds good, but there is a danger in the notion that history will reveal the truth of our moment and sort the good from the bad. Past events don’t change, but the telling of history is a conversation that goes on for as long as we exist on this planet. In our own lifetimes Americans have discovered things they’ve forgotten, and rehabilitated individuals in our history who were once maligned.

If we want history to tell the true story of Donald Trump’s violent presidency long after we’re dead, we have to actively, vigilantly reinforce that truth while we’re alive. We cannot guarentee that Americans will get the story right after we’re gone.

A history of holes

The past does not change, but our telling of it does. Americans are famous for concealment by omission. It is only in the last year or two that there has been widespread awareness of the Tulsa Massacre of 1921, for example, when racists destroyed “Black Wall Street” and murdered the people who lived there in a fit of organized rage.

That was only one of our country’s multiple genocides against Black Americans, but we don’t talk about a lot of those. They aren’t pleasant, and they do not fit in with the narrative that America is the longest standing multi-racial democracy in the world.  

Just as it was easier for Americans in the past to forget the importance of the Tulsa Massacre, it could be easier for Americans in the future to forget about the ugliness that led to the January 6 attack on The Capitol. 

It’s also possible that future Americans could manipulate the events around January 6. We already saw that happen immediately after the attack. Some right wing media tried to pin the blame on Antifa and polling indicates that now that what half of Republicans believe. It’s quite possible that future generations could believe that as well. 

We already know that history changes when different people have the power to do the telling. Almost every president worth thinking about has been imagined and reimagined. President Ulysses S. Grant was maligned as a corrupt drunk for decades, in part by Americans who wanted to repudiate the Reconstruction and his support for civil rights for black Americans.

It is only the 21st century that historians have attempted to recover his heroism, not only as a general but also as a president. That’s not because he changed (obviously), but because we did. As our society embraced racial equality, it became clear to historians that our telling of Grant’s presidency was colored by white supremacy. Turns out, he may not even have been an alcoholic, he just liked to drink (Who among us?). 

All of this is to say that we assume history will get things right, when history has actually showed us that it often gets things wrong. It is highly dependent on the people who write it, their power, and how they want us to see ourselves in a great American story. 

See it, be it

The ability of history to be influenced and written in real time is why you can’t have a racist, a demagogue, or authoritarian in the White House – especially not one who knows the power of story as well as Trump. Given the chance to rewrite history these sorts of leaders will take it and distort it with lies.

The Trump administration attempted to do that in ways large and small. It tried to delay Harriet Tubman’s appearance on the $20 bill. That was both a way to conceal the importance of Tubman’s work rescuing slaves and serving in the military as a spy, and a way to preserve the glorification of President Andrew Jackson, a racist.

And then of course there was the “1776 Report” – a shining example of what happens when a young man who spends too much time in racist chatrooms tries to write a history thesis after never having been to class or done the reading. This report, published on the White House website on January 18, was the Trump administration’s attempt at “patriotic education,” a retelling of our history that that minimized the importance and brutality of slavery, and demonized the American left.

Upon taking office, the Biden administration promptly removed it. That’s the kind of vigilance we need to maintain over the telling of what happened on January 6 and for the four years that proceeded it. There are powerful, relentless forces in this country that will wish to conceal it, or distort it to glorification. It is up to us, right now and in the future, to make sure that they do not have their say.

Read the original article on Business Insider