Donald Trump has postponed a controversial rally scheduled for the same day as a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the US, following fierce criticism, he announced Friday. He has decided to shift the Juneteenth Day rally to the following day, Saturday the 20th of June. Trump is under fire in the United States on allegations of enabling racism, with the populace and the Republican Party increasingly divided over his handling of the pandemic.
President Trump has moved his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to June 20 from June 19, which is Juneteenth, marking the end of US slavery https://t.co/Q0qKxtNm1i
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) June 13, 2020
The “Make America Great Again” rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma had been due to mark Trump’s return to the campaign trail, but he said on Twitter the event had been postponed “out of respect” for the June 19 “Juneteenth” holiday.
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Critics had slammed Trump’s choice of Tulsa — the site of one of the worst race riots in US history — as anti-racism protests sweep the country following the death of George Floyd in police custody.
“This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists—he’s throwing them a welcome home party,” Senator Kamala Harris tweeted after Trump first announced the rally.
The Republican billionaire announced on Wednesday that he would resume his campaign rallies in four states — Oklahoma, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina — despite the coronavirus pandemic that continues to rage in the US.
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Raucous rallies have been a hallmark of Trump’s presidency and a key to energizing his base, which he hopes will turn out in big numbers on November 3. He is currently lagging in the polls against Democrat Joe Biden.
Job approval for the president is also down after his response to the coronavirus pandemic and the recent turmoil over police brutality, sparked by Floyd’s death during his arrest in Minneapolis. His ability to continuously attract controversy, such as his recent comments in Dallas glorifying the response of the American police to riots, has seen his image further tarnished and his poll ratings in free-fall.
Although the coronavirus remains a threat, his campaign now feels that the crowds at daily street protests have lifted the political pressure on Trump to avoid large gatherings of his own.
Trump supporters must however sign a waiver promising not to sue if they catch COVID-19 at the event, according to his campaign website.
Juneteenth Day rally: What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, has been celebrated by African-Americans since the late 1800s.
On June 19, 1865, Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African-Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. General Granger’s announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued more than two and a half years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln.
The holiday received its name by combining June and 19. The day is also sometimes called “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.”
The original celebration became an annual one, and it grew in popularity over the years with the addition of descendants, according to Juneteenth.com, which tracks celebrations. The day was celebrated by praying and bringing families together. In some celebrations on this day, men and women who had been enslaved, and their descendants, made an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston.
Celebrations reached new heights in 1872, when a group of African-American ministers and businessmen in Houston purchased 10 acres of land and created Emancipation Park. The space was intended to hold the city’s annual Juneteenth celebration.
Today, while some celebrations take place among families in backyards, some cities, like Atlanta and Washington, hold larger events, like parades and festivals with residents, local businesses and more.
Galveston has remained a busy sight for Juneteenth events over the years, said Douglas Matthews, who has helped coordinate them for more than two decades. He said the city usually has about 15 events beginning in the first week of June. Combined, the events draw about 10,000 people in total, he said.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk
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