WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s decision to hold his first rally in three months in Tulsa, the location of one of the worst massacres of African Americans in U.S. history, has triggered controversy as he wrestles with criticism over his handling of nationwide protests against police brutality and racism.
Trump plans to visit Oklahoma on June 19 for the first of several big campaign events. It will be his first rally since an event in Charlotte, North Carolina, on March 2. The trip comes after weeks of protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was pinned to the ground for nearly nine minutes under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer.
Trump put his large campaign rallies on hiatus for a few months while much of the country was locked down amid the coronavirus pandemic.
June 19, or Juneteenth, is also known as Emancipation Day and commemorates the date in 1865 when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger traveled to Galveston, Texas, to inform residents that President Abraham Lincoln had freed the slaves and that slave owners had to comply with the Emancipation Proclamation.
This month, Tulsa marked a grim date – the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre in which a white mob ravaged a thriving African-American business community in the Greenwood District known as the "Black Wall Street." Estimates suggest as many as 300 people were killed, and scores of homes and businesses were destroyed.
Alicia Andrews, chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, said Trump was "thumbing his nose at the real issue of racial inequity."
"There's a man's words, and then there are his actions," she said. "Him coming here on that date, without making any outreach to the community, and saying it's for unity, it is a slap in the face."