“I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,” Trump told the Journal in a Wednesday interview in the Oval Office. “It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.” Trump also declared in his interview that many of the people he had polled around him had never heard of Juneteenth.
The Journal also reported that he asked an aide during his interview whether she had heard of Juneteenth, “and she pointed out that the White House had issued a statement last year commemorating the day."
Twitter users were quick to point out that Trump did nothing to raise awareness about the day, which commemorates the end of slavery in the US on June 19, 1865. On that date, Union Army Maj. General Gordon Granger told a group of black slaves in Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War had ended and that they were free in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation.
Tulsa was also the site of one of the worst massacres of black people in American history in 1921, when a white mob murdered hundreds of black residents.
“This isn't merely racist. It's like meta-racist,” one Twitter user said of Trump’s comments.
“The latest in Trump's long series of ridiculous claims that nobody had ever heard of a widely known thing: he says nobody had ever heard of Juneteenth until he just made it famous...then is told his White House has put out three statements on Juneteenth,” another user commented.
— Covie (@roper_93) June 18, 2020
— Alex Cole (@acnewsitics) June 18, 2020
— Paul Cogan (@PaulCogan) June 18, 2020
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) June 18, 2020
— Ken Olin (@kenolin1) June 18, 2020
— Lovee Goddess (@LoveeGoddess1) June 18, 2020
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) June 18, 2020
— gaylor swift (@samlewie) June 18, 2020
— tell the petite king (@tellbeall) June 18, 2020
Trump has made headlines in the last week and has been criticized for being racially insensitive after announcing that he would be holding a campaign rally on June 19.
On June 12, Trump announced that the Tulsa rally would take place on June 20 instead.
“Many of my African American friends and supporters have reached out to suggest that we consider changing the date out of respect for this Holiday, and in observance of this important occasion and all that it represents. I have therefore decided to move our rally to Saturday, June 20th, in order to honor their requests,” the president tweeted.
Trump also revealed in his interview that he was not aware of Juneteenth until a black Secret Service agent spoke to him about the historical significance of that day.
Trump’s comments come as demonstrators across the US continue to protest racism and police brutality after the killing of black man George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May.