Donald Trump is leaving his bunker at the White House and getting back on the road to campaign for another four more years as the President of the United States. On Wednesday his reelection committee announced that he would be headed to Tulsa on June 19 to host his first rally since declaring a national state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The crowd is likely to draw thousands, which is concerning medical professionals, who still warn of the ongoing threat of the deadly health outbreak. Dr. Anthony Fauci notes that the pandemic is just in its beginning stages, projecting that another 100,000 Americans may lose their life to the virus before September. But while the health implications are concerning, others are deeply offended by the campaign’s decision to hold a MAGA rally in a place that is most often associated with domestic terrorism carried out by those who hold beliefs akin to much of Trump’s core base.
Ninety-nine years ago, Tulsa was the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre. The all-out assault on Black lives and Black wealth has never been atoned for, and is barely recognized as an attempted racial cleansing. In addition to the location’s history, the significance of the date, June 19, also sends a message. Juneteenth marks the date federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation that had been issued by President Abraham Lincoln two and a half years prior. In the United States, Juneteenth is celebrated as African-Americans’ Independence Day.
The Trump campaign’s decision to reinvigorate his reelection efforts on a national holiday dedicated to Black lives, in a place that decimated Black life during a time of heightened racial tensions, does not appear to be coincidental. Congressman Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts tweeted, “99 years ago a white mob massacred hundreds of Black people in the Greenwood District of Tulsa. The most racist President of my lifetime knows exactly what message he’s sending when he goes there on Juneteenth.” California Senator Kamala Harris echoed his sentiments, tweeting on Thursday, “This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists—he’s throwing them a welcome home party.”
A Washington Post-Ipsos poll conducted in January found that 83 percent of African-Americans believe Trump is a racist and has exacerbated the country’s race problems during his tenure. That was before the impeached president called peaceful protesters denouncing police brutality, “thugs,” before Pence invited Candace Owens to the White House to have a roundtable on race relations, before it was reported that known White supremacist Stephen Miller would be penning a national address on race in America and before Trump’s campaign announced that it would be holding a rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth.