On race issues, Mr. Trump said a black Secret Service agent told him the meaning of Juneteenth as the president was facing criticism for initially planning to hold his first campaign rally in three months on the day.
The rally is scheduled to be held in Tulsa, Okla., where, in 1921, a mob of white residents attacked and killed black community members, destroying a thriving black business district.
Holding a rally on that day, particularly as racial protests continued throughout the country, was insensitive, African-American leaders told Mr. Trump. He eventually pushed the rally back a day to June 20.
“I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,” Mr. Trump said, referring to news coverage of the rally date. “It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.”
Mr. Trump said he polled many people around him, none of whom had heard of Juneteenth. Mr. Trump paused the interview to ask an aide if she had heard of Juneteenth, and she pointed out that the White House had issued a statement last year commemorating the day. Mr. Trump’s White House has put out statements on Juneteenth during each of his first three years.
“Oh really? We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement?” Mr. Trump said. “Ok, ok. Good.”
Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia commemorate or observe Juneteenth, according to a Congressional Research Service report released earlier this month.
But why should it be disrespectful for the president to hold a rally on Juneteeth, unless he’s conceding to liberal accusations of racism? Why not hold the rally and celebrate Juneteenth during the speech? It just goes without saying, even on his own staff, that he would have been on the other side of that argument? Do people also just assume that the mostly white Trump fan base in Tulsa hate black people to this day and would not agree with everyone else in the world that what happened there 99 years ago was a terrible atrocity? Celebrations of the end of slavery and condemnations of racial pogroms belong to all Americans. No one on the wrong side of those arguments have any power or are really part of American politics at all, so why all the hub-bub besides the president’s mortifying ignorance?