About that Trump Juneteenth campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma … it’s not happening. Instead of holding a campaign rally on June 19, the date has been moved to June 20.
The announcement of the first campaign rally since the national shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic got off to a shaky start. Juneteenth is also known as Emancipation Day – the date that celebrates the end of slavery. It began in Galveston, Texas in 1866 and spread across the country.
After the Civil War ended in April 1865 most slaves in Texas were still unaware of their freedom. This began to change when Union troops arrived in Galveston. Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, commanding officer, District of Texas, from his headquarters in the Osterman building (Strand and 22nd St.), read ‘General Order No. 3’ on June 19, 1865. The order stated “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.” With this notice, reconstruction era Texas began.
Freed African Americans observed “Emancipation Day,” as it was first known, as early as 1866 in Galveston. As community gatherings grew across Texas, celebrations included parades, prayer, singing and readings of the proclamation. In the mid-20th century, community celebrations gave way to more private commemorations. A re-emergence of public observance helped Juneteenth become a state holiday in 1979. Initially observed in Texas, this landmark event’s legacy is evident today by worldwide commemorations that celebrate freedom and the triumph of the human spirit.
Under normal circumstances, the date would have been controversial. In today’s political atmosphere and the Black Lives Matter protests, it is impossible. Trump is working to gain support with African-American voters (as is Joe Biden) and this was an unforced error that the re-election campaign made. If it was only going to be held on Juneteenth, the president could have said he was doing it to honor the holiday and reach out to black voters. Instead, Tulsa was chosen as the location of the rally. Hence, the blowback. The Tulsa Race Massacre, also known as the Greenwood Massacre, happened in 1921 and is called the single worst incident of racial violence in America. Mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses in the Greenwood District of Tulsa. The district was called the Black Wall Street – a 35 block area, a thriving business district.
Black politicians jumped at the chance to call out Trump as a racist and his supporters as white supremacists. In other words, just another day ending in ‘y’.
“This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists—he’s throwing them a welcome home party,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tweeted earlier in the week.
“Tulsa was the site of the worst racist violence in American history. The president’s speech there on Juneteenth is a message to every Black American: more of the same,” Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) tweeted.
Trump tweeted out about the decision to change the rally date. He said he made the decision himself after black supporters asked him to do so.
I can’t help but think that Trump’s interview with Harris Faulkner on Fox News Channel during his visit to Dallas played a role in the decision. Faulkner, an African-American woman, asked about the choice of date and location and Trump said it would be a celebration.
“Think about it as a celebration. My rally is a celebration,” he said, going on to brag about his crowd sizes. “In the history of politics, I think I can say there has never been any group or any person that’s had rallies like I do. I go and I just say give me the biggest stadium and we fill it up every time. We have never had a vacant stadium.”
It may be that an FNC anchor asking about the rally brought it to Trump’s attention just how bad the decision was and that he should correct it. What I wonder, though, is why did the campaign choose Oklahoma in the first place? Trump will win Oklahoma in November, which isn’t in question. Is it because the state has had a fairly easy time of mitigating the coronavirus? Like other red states that pushed for re-opening, Oklahoma is seeing an increase in cases, though relatively small.
Yesterday, June 12, 222 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed by public health officials. This represents the state’s largest single-day increase in new cases. The total number of positive cases of the coronavirus in the state now stands at 7,848. That’s a nearly three percent increase in total reported cases. However, the state population is almost 4M and more than 81% of cases are classified as having recovered from the virus.
The Trump campaign says that over 200,000 tickets have been requested for the Tulsa rally. This must distress Team Biden. Poor old Joe tried to take a swing at Trump for holding a rally on Juneteenth but, as usual, his facts were wrong and the gaffe was apparent. He said Trump was having a rally in Arizona in this quote. I’ve also seen a quote that he said the Juneteenth rally would be in Texas. Bless his heart.
“What in God’s name is this guy doing? And now did you hear what he just did? He’s having a rally on Juneteenth in…Arizona,” Biden said at teletown hall on Friday afternoon hosted by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “And guess what, all the people coming to his rally have to sign a — they have to sign a piece of paper saying, if they get COVID in this, they will not sue the campaign. I mean c’mon man, what the hell is going on?
Not only doesn’t Biden get the location right, which is the whole point of the outrage, but he can’t find the words to say “liability waiver”. C’mon, man.