Donald Trump had to ask members of his White House inner circle about the meaning of the Juneteenth holiday, with a report claiming that a black Secret Service agent had to step in and explain the significance to the group.
The Juneteenth holiday on June 19 took on greater significance this year amid nationwide protests calling for an end to systemic racism after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The holiday commemorates the day that word of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached enslaved people in Texas in 1865, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln declared that all people held as slaves in the Confederate states were to be set free.
As CNN reported, Trump had planned a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19, and was facing growing pressure to change the date. Critics said it would be insensitive to hold a rally on Juneteenth in a city that saw one of the worst racial acts of violence in American history, when white mobs killed hundreds of black residents in 1921.
As the report noted, neither Trump nor his campaign staff had realized that the rally date coincided with Juneteenth. Even after it was pointed out to them, White House staffers still had a hard time seeing the problem, the report claimed.
The report added that it was a black Secret Service agent who finally explained the significance to them. It was then that Trump began to reconsider the date of the Tulsa rally, even though he was wary about moving it to a Saturday night when he believed television ratings would be lower.
“After a Black Secret Service agent explained the significance to the President — and after Trump polled his orbit to find no one who had heard of Juneteenth — the President began to consider changing the date,” the report said. “He also heard directly from Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, who told him a date-change would be wise.”
Later, Trump would go on to take credit for making Juneteenth popular, saying many people did not understand the significance before he scheduled his rally on that date.
As The Inquisitr reported, other members of the Trump family came under fire for references to Juneteenth this week. First lady Melania Trump posted a video on Twitter showing a book that told the story of Juneteenth through the eyes of a young girl, but critics found it to be insensitive given her past support of the birther movement.
Birthers furthered an unfounded idea that Barack Obama was born outside of the U.S. and faked his birth certificate, a theory that critics say was steeped in racism.