- 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.
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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.”
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.