President Donald Trump plans to host his first campaign rally since the pandemic started on Juneteenth in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Trump announced his intentions on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. The president did not reveal the location of the event, but he spoke highly of the site. He also complimented Oklahoma’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The state is currently in phase three of its reopening process.
“A beautiful new venue, brand new. We’re looking forward to it,” Trump said. “They’ve done a great job with COVID, as you know, the state of Oklahoma.”
The announcement sparked outrage from Trump critics. The location and date of the event are both significant in the Black community.
Juneteenth is observed on June 19, the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, found out they were free more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. In Tulsa in 1921, a white mob killed and maimed hundreds of Black people and decimated the highly successful Black Wall Street District. Before the attack, Black Wall Street contained several Black-owned businesses and was an example of Black prosperity in the Jim Crow era.
Critics took to social media to express their disapproval.
“A Trump rally with rebel flags (a symbol of slavery and racism) in Tulsa, OK (the place of #TulsaMassacre) on Juneteenth (a day of emancipation recognition) is more than a slap in the face to African Americans,” said Texas Rep. Al Green. “It is overt racism from the highest office in the land.”
“This is not an accident,” wrote political strategist Atima Omara. “Trump is holding his first rally of the campaign on Juneteenth (when enslaved blacks were emancipated) in Tulsa almost a 100 years after the massacre of its black citizens. Forget dog whistle, this is an air raid siren.”
“No but seriously, the whole thing is evil. A Trump rally. On Juneteenth. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of the black Wall Street massacre. We live in the pettiest version of hell,” tweeted author Elexus Jionde. “They literally sat and strategized on what would be the most offensive date. I’m mad that I’m offended because I know it was on purpose but holy sh-t I’m enraged.”
Oklahoma is a majority Republican state where Trump won by 36 percentage points in 2016. Republican leaders praised Trump for jumpstarting his reelection activities.
Gov. Kevin Stitt eagerly awaits Trump’s arrival and believes his trip to Tulsa is indicative of the success of the state’s reopening measures.
“The President is making Oklahoma his first campaign stop since March 2, and his visit here confirms Oklahoma is the national example in responsibly and safely reopening,” Stitt said in a statement.
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and Sen. Jim Inhofe expressed similar sentiments to Tulsa World.
“Tulsans have managed one of the first successful reopenings in the nation, so we can only guess that may be the reason President Trump selected Tulsa as a rally site,” Bynum said.
“It’s an incredible honor to have President Trump select Tulsa for the rally,” Inhofe said. “It highlights how Oklahoma is leading the way in handling the coronavirus and responsibly reopening.”