Expert Pitch

Trump’s Juneteenth rally in Tulsa to inflame racial tension

Cornell University
12-Jun-2020 9:40 AM EDT, by Cornell University

The Trump administration announced this week that its first in-person campaign rally since the coronavirus lockdown will occur in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 19th – a day celebrated by many Americans as the day that marked the end of slavery in the United States.

Noliwe Rooks, professor of American studies at Cornell University, and is an expert on the role of segregation in American society, particularly in education and the economy. She says the selection of June 19th for a campaign rally could inflame tensions if the U.S. government does not address past injustice and commit to justice for all.


Rooks says:  

“The fact that President Trump has chosen to resume his campaign events in support of his reelection in Tulsa, Oklahoma on the 19th of June, known as Juneteenth, encapsulates, and indeed inflames, the tensions at the heart of the global protests decrying unchecked acts of murderous police aggression against Black people in the United States.

“Tulsa became the site of one of the most brutal massacres of Black men, women, and children and began when police allowed a mob of white men to remove and lynch a Black man held in police custody. The mob grew and over three days killed hundreds of people, burned every Black home, and destroyed personal property, leaving thousands of Black people who had built a prosperous enclave known as Black Wall Street homeless.

“Juneteenth commemorates the day that enslaved Black people in Texas were told of their freedom almost two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had freed them. Slave owners simply ignored the law and disregarded the fact that slavery was over. 

“A presidential visit and event in Tulsa without repudiating current and past generations of violence aimed at Black people compounds the tragedies we have recently witnessed, just as surely as holding an event on a date that marks the end of chattel slavery in the United States requires a full-throated rededication of the United States government to justice for all. If the White House does not know the significance of its actions, there is time for them to correct course.”

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