President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he would hold a campaign rally in Tulsa on June 19th, his first since coronavirus precautions halted nearly all large events. The date and location of the rally are significant—June 19th marks Juneteenth, the anniversary of the emancipation of the last enslaved African-Americans in the Confederacy. Tulsa was the site of a racist massacre in 1921, when mobs of white people destroyed the Greenwood District, which was known as “Black Wall Street,” for being the wealthiest black community in the country. The attackers murdered dozens of Greenwood residents. Kamau Marshall, head of strategic communications for former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign, expressed outrage over the choice of date and place: “How racist is Donald Trump: He’s so racist that he plans on having one of his first campaign rallies on June 19th in Tulsa, OK. If you don’t know—Do some research on #Juneteenth and the racial violence that took place in Oklahoma known as the Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921.”
Oklahoma has begun to allow large events, as the state has avoided dire levels of coronavirus infections, and its numbers had begun to drop in late May. But the latest phase of its reopening commenced June 1st, allowing summer camps and offices to operate at full capacity, and the state saw its largest daily spike in cases yet. The New York Times reports that Trump’s staff are unlikely to enforce social distancing measures or require attendees to wear masks, despite the fact that the nation’s top health experts say the pandemic is far from over, with some predicting another 100,000 deaths.