President Trump is pushing back his next campaign rally by one day to avoid holding it on Juneteenth, citing criticism that it would conflict with the anniversary commemorating the end of slavery.
“We had previously scheduled our #MAGA Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for June 19th – a big deal. Unfortunately, however, this would fall on the Juneteenth Holiday,” Mr. Trump tweeted late Friday night.
“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,” he said. “I have therefore decided to move our rally to Saturday, June 20th, in order to honor their requests.”
Critics also pointed out that Tulsa is the site of one of the worst massacres of blacks in U.S. history , in 1921.
Sen. Kamala D. Harris, California Democrat, called the planned rally “a welcome-home party” for white supremacists.
The president has been criticized heavily over his response to the death of George Floyd, the black man killed by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25.
The White House initially defended the choice of the June 19 date. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Juneteenth is “meaningful” to the president.
The president told Fox News the rally date was not a deliberate slight.
“Think about it as a celebration. They’re always a celebration,” Mr. Trump said. “In the history of politics, I think I can say there’s never been any group or any person that’s had rallies like I do.”
The Juneteenth anniversary marks the date in 1865 when enslaved African-Americans in Texas learned of their freedom after the end of the Civil War.
The rally is the president’s first since March 2, when the coronavirus crisis forced widespread shutdowns. The campaign is requiring people who want to attend the rally, to be held in an indoor arena, to agree to a waiver that they won’t sue organizers if they contract the COVID-19 disease.
The president said his campaign has had ticket requests for more than 200,000 people.
“I look forward to seeing everyone in Oklahoma!” he tweeted.
Sign up for Daily Newsletters