President Donald Trump said late Friday night he would delay his first campaign rally since March to June 20 "out of respect" for Juneteenth. Pool photo by Doug Mills/UPI | License Photo
June 13 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump announced he rescheduled his first rally since March in Tulsa, Okla., after receiving criticism for originally setting the event on Juneteenth.
The original date -- June 19 -- marks a holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. Between the timing and location, some critics saw the event as insensitive to African Americans, particularly as Black Lives Matter protests sweep the nation.
Tulsa is the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, a bloody event that killed up to 300 African Americans in the Greenwood District, known as "Black Wall Street" for its more than 300 black-owned businesses.
Trump announced on Twitter late Friday night that the rally date would be moved.
"Many of my African-American friends and supporters have reached out to suggest that we consider changing the date out of respect for the holiday, and in observance of this important occasion and all that it represents. I have therefore decided to move our rally to Saturday, June 20th, in order to honor their requests," he tweeted.
When questioned Thursday about the decision to hold the rally on Juneteenth, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that Trump planned to "share some of the progress that has been made" for African Americans.
"The African-American community is very near and dear to his heart. At these rallies he often shares the great work he has done for minority communities," McEnany said, touting criminal justice reform and the Justice Department lifting a ban on federal funding for faith-based historically black colleges and universities.
"He's working on rectifying injustices ... So it's a meaningful day to him, and it's a day where wants to share some of the progress that's been made as we look forward and more needs to be done."
But critics viewed the timing and location of the rally as a dog whistle to white supremacists.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said -- before the event was rescheduled -- that it "isn't just a wink to white supremacists -- he's throwing them a welcome home party."
Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, tweeted, "A Trump rally with rebel flags (a symbol of slavery and racism) in Tulsa, OK (the place of #TulsaMassacre) on Juneteenth (a day of emancipation recognition) is more than a slap in the face to African Americans; it is overt racism from the highest office in the land. #RejectRacism."
The police-involved killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day has led to worldwide protests and renewed conversations on systemic racism in the United States, which political rival Vice President Joe Biden says Trump has failed to properly address.
"When peaceful protesters are dispersed by the order of the president from the doorstep of the people's house, the White House -- using tear gas and flash grenades -- in order to stage a photo op -- a photo op! -- in one of the most historic churches in the country, or least Washington, D.C., -- we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than principle," Biden said last week.
After Tulsa, Trump has said he plans to hold rallies in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and Texas.
Demonstrators hold a sign in Los Angeles on June 14 for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot by police in her home while she was sleeping. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo