On June 19, 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation was read aloud to slaves in Galveston, Texas—the last state where the proclamation was announced, two years after it was issued by Abraham Lincoln.
Since then, June 19—Juneteenth—is a day for commemorating a hallmark of the end of slavery in the United States.
This year, Juneteenth takes on an even more urgent meaning in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and countless other Black Americans killed by police..
Earlier this month, as protests against police brutality toward black people continued across the nation, President Donald Trump announced that he'd have his first rally after a months long pandemic-induced hiatus in Tulsa, Oklahoma—the site of the Black Wall Street Massacre—on Juneteenth.
People saw the decision as an affront to the importance of the holiday, and the Trump campaign changed the rally to June 20 in the face of public outcry.
Trump used the controversy to give himself credit, saying to the Wall Street Journal:
"I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous. It's actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it."
Trump was reminded that—like his predecessor—his White House had put out a Juneteenth statement every year of his presidency:
"Oh, really? We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement? Okay, okay. Good."
For the record, countless Black Americans have been celebrating Juneteenth since 1866—a year after the proclamation was read in Galveston, Texas. Trump's claim that "nobody had ever heard of it" is false.
The President's latest White House Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, faced questions about the President's words regarding Juneteenth, and attempted to defend him.
A White House correspondent asked McEnany what it said about the President's reverence for the Black community if he felt comfortable claiming that "nobody had ever heard of" the 150+ year old holiday.
"This President's routinely commemorated Juneteenth."
The reporter pressed Kayleigh, reminding her:
"He said he learned about it this week."
McEnany insisted that the President knew about Juneteenth before last week, citing Housing and Urban Development Director Ben Carson's claim that he was surprised how much Trump knew about it.
While Trump didn't explicitly say in the interview that he learned about Juneteenth for the first time this week, he did say that "nobody had ever heard of it" before his rally and didn't know about the three statements his White House had put out to commemorate it.
People had trouble taking McEnany at her word.
McEnany said google searches for Juneteenth had increased, for which she thanked the President.
The morning of this Juneteenth, the President threatened potential protesters if they showed up to his rally.