Tulsa was the site of the worst racist violence in American history. The president’s speech there on Juneteenth is a message to every Black American: more of the same.
President Trump to visit Oklahoma, speak to citizens - ABC News reports 'dangerously divisive tactic'
Here's the ABC's headine
At a crucial moment, a provocative move from Trump
After three weeks, the George Floyd protests are shrinking in size and look more peaceful than ever, but it wouldn't take much for them to flare up again.
It's in this precarious moment that the President stoked a baseless conspiracy theory about a protester and firmly decided against removing the names of Confederate leaders from US military bases.
What sparked the most backlash was his campaign's announcement that it will hold its first post-COVID rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 19.
June 19, often called "Juneteenth" or Emancipation Day, commemorates the formal end to slavery in the US. It's a day Americans celebrate.
And yet Tulsa is known for being the site of one of America's most vile racial attacks. In 1921, a white mob led a massacre through an area known as "Black Wall Street," burning buildings, looting stores, and killing an estimated 300 black residents.
The Trump campaign says it chose this spot because Oklahoma is far along the path of re-opening its economy.
Tulsa has no ban on large gatherings, and the campaign doesn't intend to enforce social-distancing rules or require that rallygoers wear masks.
You can see why the campaign might aim to hold a normal, safe-looking, rally as the US registers 2 million known COVID-19 cases and the economy continues to tank.
But it could have chosen a different date or city or state — maybe even a politically strategic swing state, which Oklahoma is not.
Oklahomans voted for Trump by a margin of more than 20 points in 2016, and polls show that support isn't shaking.
It's hard to see any other reason for picking Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 19, 2020, other than turning a rally announcement into a statement on race.
Trump's actions could stoke racial tensions at a pivotal moment
Regardless of what sort of speech he actually delivers, Trump has already made sure that the audience will extend far, far beyond those in attendance.
But he's also, purposefully or not, signalled that a place with a history like Tulsa's is a worthy spot to hold a raucous celebration at a time when America's racial wounds are wide open.
As one African-American senator put it: "This isn't just a wink to white supremacists — he's throwing them a welcome home party."
This isn't just a wink to white supremacists—he's throwing them a welcome home party. https://twitter.com/latimes/status/1270858531957280769 …Los Angeles Times✔@latimes
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. https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-06-10/trump-says-he-will-resume-campaign-rallies …
The Trump campaign has long proved that division is a great tool for harvesting attention, and attention is a great way to win votes.
We don't know whether this is what the campaign intended, but history tells us that the racial division that could result is the kind that can be dangerous — even deadly.
This kind of division is what led to Black Lives Matter in the first place.
It's what led to 2016's deadly white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
It's what subjects more than 7,000 Americans every year to hate crimes involving physical violence.
At a time when America is at its most vulnerable — when its citizens are grieving, hurting and questioning all notions of personal safety and stability — this is where the conversation appears to be headed.
If the first six months were hellish, the next six months of 2020 campaigning could get even darker.
Who knows what words will be left to describe them.