Trump made the claim in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, responding to a question about his having planned a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma ― where a horrific racist massacre took place in 1921 ― on Juneteenth.
“I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,” Trump told the paper, applauding himself for the negative media coverage his rally date generated. “It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.”
Trump responded to the outrage by postponing the rally by one day. He told the Journal he didn’t know the meaning of Juneteenth until a Secret Service agent who is Black explained it to him.
Not only was Trump clueless ― so were his staffers, even though the White House has commemorated the day every year since Trump took office. Here’s the Journal’s retelling of that portion of the interview:
Mr. Trump said he polled many people around him, none of whom had heard of Juneteenth. Mr. Trump paused the interview to ask an aide if she had heard of Juneteenth, and she pointed out that the White House had issued a statement last year commemorating the day. Mr. Trump’s White House has put out statements on Juneteenth during each of his first three years.
“Oh really? We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement?” Mr. Trump said. “Ok, ok. Good.”
The bizarre boast is yet more evidence of Trump’s tenuous grasp on Black history. In 2017, the President gave a televised speech in honor of Black History Month and seemed to have little idea who Frederick Douglass was ― or even that he was no longer alive.
Trump referenced Douglass — a man who escaped slavery to become an acclaimed author, abolitionist and civil rights activist — as “an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.”