After lots of criticism, President Donald Trump backed down and said he would delay his planned rally in Tulsa by a day so that it wouldn’t coincide with a holiday that honors the end of slavery in the United States.
Trump had been broadly condemned for his decision to hold his first rally in months on June 19, which is known as Juneteenth, and commemorates the date Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865 and read the Emancipation Proclamation declaring slaves had been freed. Many saw the choice of date at a time when much of the country has exploded in protest against racism and police brutality as a provocation. That was particularly the case considering the location of Tulsa, the site of one of the most brutal instances of racist violence in 1921, when hundreds of African Americans were killed in 1921.
“We had previously scheduled our #MAGA Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for June 19th—a big deal,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets late Friday. “Unfortunately, however, this would fall on the Juneteenth Holiday. 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 then took the opportunity to brag about his popularity, writing that his campaign had “already had ticket requests in excess of 200,000 people.”
Trump bowed to pressure after affirming in a Fox News interview earlier that day the rally would move forward as a “celebration,” although he denied it was purposefully scheduled with Juneteenth in mind. “It’s an interesting date,” he said. “It wasn’t done for that reason, but it’s an interesting date.”
Democrats had been critical of Trump’s choice of date, describing it as a purposeful move to appeal to certain elements of his base while disrespecting the concerns of those who have been trying to address concerns over systemic racism in the country. Sen. Kamala Harris of California said the event was a “welcome home party” for white supremacists. The chairwoman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, Alicia Andrews, had called Trump’s decision to host his rally on Juneteenth as a “deliberate insult.”
It’s clear that Trump wasn’t just under pressure from Democrats to change the date. Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, celebrated Trump’s decision to postpone the rally by a day. “I am thankful President Trump recognizes the significance of June 19 and has chosen to move his campaign rally out of respect to Oklahomans and the important Juneteenth celebrations,” Stitt said.
Earlier Friday, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said the Trump rally was the “hottest ticket ever!” and there had been requests for more than 200,000 tickets. He later updated that figure: “Correction now 300,000!” The total population of Tulsa is around 400,000.
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