During a Wednesday interview with The Wall Street Journal, President Donald Trump took responsibility for the fame of Juneteenth, the unofficial annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery. As reported by The Hill, Trump initially scheduled his comeback campaign rally on the holiday before pushing it back after a backlash.
“I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,” he said. “It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.”
According to the president, he learned the meaning of the date from a black Secret Service agent. Trump also suggested that none of those in his inner circle had heard of the annual holiday, although an aide informed him during the interview that the White House released a statement commemorating the occasion last year.
“Oh, really?” he asked. “We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement? OK, OK. Good.”
Trump’s rally is scheduled for Saturday evening in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His initial plans were panned in part due to Tulsa being home to the worst act of racial violence in U.S. history: the destruction of Black Wall Street and the killing of hundreds of black residents.
Former Obama administration aide Khalilah Harris claimed that the president’s decision to move his rally date was motivated by fear. According to Harris, Trump did not move the date of the rally for respect to the black community, but because he is scared of facing counter-protesters. Harris also suggested that Trump intentionally scheduled the rally on Juneteenth so he could subsequently reschedule and claim to care about the commemoration.
As Trump prepares for his upcoming rally, protests of George Floyd’s death continue around the country. In response to calls for police reform, Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday. At the signing, Trump included a “full-throated defense” of police departments, CNN reported.
“Reducing crime and raising standards are not opposite goals,” the president said at the event. “They are not mutually exclusive. They work together.”
The order provides financial incentives for police departments to create credentialing programs of officers and follow standards for proper use of force.
Trump did not directly address systemic racism in police departments, which is an issue that has been under the microscope amid the civil unrest that continues across the country. However, during the president’s interview with The Wall Street Journal, he acknowledged that there is “some” racism in America, but suggested the country had rooted the majority of it out.
“I’d like to think there is not” Trump said. “But unfortunately, there probably is some. I would also say it’s very substantially less than it used to be.”