Former President Donald Trump had no idea what Juneteenth was when he scheduled a rally for June 19, 2020, in Tulsa Oklahoma following the murder of George Floyd in May of last year, according to excerpts from a new book written by Wall Street Journal White House reporter Michael C. Bender shared by Politico Magazine.
In Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, Bender recalled that Trump was privately disgusted by the killing of Floyd and wanted to address Black Americans after he reviewed the footage of Floyd being killed by now-convicted ex-Minnesota cop Derek Chauvin.
“This is f—— terrible,” Trump said, adding, “I know these f—— cops. They can get out of control sometimes. They can be rough.”
In June, Bender wrote, Trump and his public relations team were struggling to find somewhere for him to give a speech because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which at that time was tearing through the country like wildfire.
Trump’s reelection campaign manager, Brad Parscale, “recommended holding the Tulsa rally on June 19,” to which Trump agreed, wrote Bender.
“No one on Parscale’s team flagged that day—or that combination of time and place—as potentially problematic. Had Parscale bothered to ask Katrina Pierson, the highest-ranking Black staffer on the campaign and a close friend of Parscale’s, she would have told him that June 19 was Juneteenth, a significant holiday for Black Americans that commemorated the end of slavery,” he added. “She also would have said to him that Tulsa, as most Black Americans are well aware, had been home to one of the bloodiest outbreaks of racial violence in the nation’s history.”
But the backlash from Democrats and Republicans alike – which was substantial – was not enough to dissuade Trump from making the anniversary of the end of American slavery all about himself.
Trump “started quizzing everyone around him,” Bender recalled:
‘Do you know what it is?’ Trump would ask.
Two days after announcing his rally, Trump turned to a Secret Service agent, who was Black, and asked him about Juneteenth.
‘Yes,’ the agent told Trump. “’ know what it is. And it’s very offensive to me that you’re having this rally on Juneteenth.’
In fact, Bender noted, Trump had no idea what Juneteenth was even though his Administration had acknowledged the holiday in every previous year of his presidency:
In our interview, one year ago this week, Trump tried to put a spin on the controversy. He told me that he had made Juneteenth a day to remember.
‘Nobody had heard of it,’ Trump told me.See Also
He was surprised to find out that his administration had put out statements in each of his first three years in office commemorating Juneteenth.
‘Oh really?’ he said. ‘We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement?’
Each statement, put out in his name, included a description of the holiday.
But such details were irrelevant to him. Instead, he insisted, ‘I did something good.’
‘I made Juneteenth very famous,’ he said.
The Tulsa rally ended up taking place on Saturday, June 20th.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.