Former Barack Obama administration aide Khalilah Harris appeared on MSNBC’s Weekends on Saturday and spoke to anchor Alex Witt about Donald Trump’s decision to move his Tulsa, Oklahoma rally from Juneteenth to June 20 after a public backlash. As reported by Raw Story, Harris said Trump’s decision wasn’t out of respect for African Americans who would be using the holiday to commemorate the ending of slavery but out of fear of counterprotesters.
The exchange began when Witt noted Trump’s claim that he spoke to his African American friends to come to a decision and asked Harris whether she felt Trump’s initial date for the rally was deliberate.
“It was absolutely willful,” Harris said.
“He set up a scenario where he then would show that he fixed everything by caring about the Juneteenth commemoration.”
Trump faced criticism not just for planning his rally on the day the Emancipation Proclamation was issued to end slavery but for the choice of location, Tulsa. Notably, Tulsa was home to the worst act of racial violence in the history of the country, when mobs of white people attacked and killed hundreds of black residents and burned down businesses in Black Wall Street — the wealthiest black community in America at the time.
Harris called Trump’s suggestion that he needed to speak to a black friend about Juneteenth “ridiculous” and said it reflects the president’s ignorance of the “significance of enslavement for his constituents.”
“I’d imagine he didn’t want to face the counterprotesters, because, as I’m understanding it, there are many people who are saddling up to go to Tulsa because he was not only disrespecting the commemoration of Juneteenth, but also the Tulsa race riots, being the worst act of racial terrorism in this country in Oklahoma in 1920.”
At the end of the exchange, Harris urged voters to remember Trump’s alleged intentions of disrupting Juneteenth.
In a piece for CNN, Maeve Reston called Trump’s decision to hold his first rally since the coronavirus pandemic his “most puzzling recent decision.” According to Reston’s report, a GOP source familiar with the president’s travel plans claimed that Oklahoma was chosen for the rally due to its Trump-friendly population and the low prevalence of coronavirus in comparison to other states.
Like Khalilah Harris, some have remained unconvinced that Trump’s rally date was not a deliberate move to fuel race conflict. Notably, California Sen. Kamala Harris said that the timing of Trump’s rally was a clear signal to white supremacists.