What is Juneteenth and why has Trump pissed us all off...again?
thursday 10th 2020
So, Trump has taken it upon himself to disrespect the Black community yet again, as he returns back to his favourite pastime. Campaign rallies.
We’re used to Trump putting on these spectacles to hype up the United States’ most ignorant members of society and on this occasion DT felt the time to start running his rallies again is on Juneteenth in Tulsa. Two factors that have had people understandably upset.
Here is why:
Juneteenth - Is June 19th, it’s also known in America as “Freedom Day”.
On January 1 1863 (during America’s Civil War) the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. This proclamation by Abraham Lincoln stated that all Slaves of the Confederate States of America must be freed. However, this did not free Slaves in the border states who were still in union with the United States and not part of the rebellion. Lincoln said that the proclamation was about retaining the union and not about ending slavery. However, it should be said that Lincoln also hated Slavery and during a speech in Illinois said "If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that `all men are created equal;' and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man's making a slave of another.” This being said he also believed that the Constitution didn’t give the government the rights to end it.
The Emancipation Proclamation, called on all Confederate states to rejoin the Union within 100 days—by January 1, 1863—or their slaves would be declared “thenceforward, and forever free.” However, this decree did little in freeing Slaves at first as it was outside of Lincoln’s power.
But, what it did achieve was symbolic power and cemented the freedom for enslaved people as one of the North’s war aims, alongside preserving the Union. It also did contribute to the end of Slavery and the passing of the 13th Amendment in January 1865 which states “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” (If you’ve watched The 13th on Netflix, you’ll understand why this is problematic as well.)
So why June 19th? Well during all of this Texas had become somewhat of a safe haven Slave State. It was far from the border states and therefore wasn’t a battleground. Many planters moved to Texas and bought their slaves with them to avoid the Civil War. By 1865, there were an estimated 250,000 enslaved people in Texas. When the war ended on April 9th 1865 the news didn’t reach Texas till later in the month. Following this, on June 18th 1865 Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived with 2,000 federal troops to occupy Texas on behalf of the federal government. The following day June 19th 1865 General Granger read out the Emancipation Proclamation to the slaves, finally freeing them.
So, that’s why it’s Freedom Day.
He’s holding it in Tulsa
Following World War 1, Tulsa was known for its affluent and thriving African American neighbourhood, The Greenwood District - it was even known as the Black Wall Street. On May 31st, accusations started circulating the area, that a 19-year-old Black man, Dick Rowland, had assaulted Sarah Page, a 17-year-old White girl - a familiar tale amongst previous racial lynchings in the US. On June 1st 1921, in a racially motivated attack, White rioters, looted and burnt down Greenwood. It’s estimated between 100 and 300 Black people were killed and over 800 people were injured. According to a later Red Cross estimate, 1,256 houses were burned, and two newspaper offices, a school, a library, a hospital, churches, hotels, stores and black-owned businesses were among the buildings destroyed or damaged by fire. It is known as one of the worst race massacres in US History.
For these two reasons, critics have accused Trump of “racially motivated trolling” by having his first rally in Tulsa and on Juneteenth, especially amidst the current tensions and uprisings following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
The LA Times tweeted on its official account: “The Trump rally will occur on Juneteenth Day, when many Americans commemorate the end of slavery, in a city that was home to an infamous 1921 massacre of Black people, one of the worst racial atrocities in the nation’s history.”
In conclusion, this all seems like a very typical Trump tactic, to overshadow the real issue at hand and make this moment about him and his presidency. In doing so, he is mocking the severity of the situation we’re currently in and belittling the importance of such a historic day - and perhaps the worst part? His Make America Great Again supporters will eat it up.