The president was scheduled to speak in Tulsa next Friday, June 19, but now he will hold the rally Saturday, June 20, instead.
The reason: June 19 is the date of “Juneteenth,” a holiday that commemorates the date in 1865 that President Lincoln’s order to free American slaves reached Galveston, Texas.
“We had previously scheduled our #MAGA Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for June 19th – a big deal. Unfortunately, however, this would fall on the Juneteenth Holiday,” the president wrote late Friday, shortly before midnight.
“Many of my African American friends and supporters have reached out to suggest that we consider changing the date out of respect for this Holiday, and in observance of this important occasion and all that it represents. I have therefore decided to move our rally to Saturday, June 20th, in order to honor their requests.”
The president added that White House officials had received more than 200,000 requests for the event – far exceeding the capacity of the venue where it will be held.
Earlier Friday, during an exclusive interview with Fox News’ Harris Faulkner on “Outnumbered Overtime,” Trump said the originally planned June 19 rally should have been viewed as a “celebration” of Juneteenth rather than a scheduling conflict.
“We’re going to Oklahoma,” Trump said during the interview in Dallas, “and if you think about it relative to your question, think about it as a celebration, don’t think about it as an inconvenience. Think about this as a celebration.”
“The fact that I’m having a rally on that day, you can really think about that very positively as a celebration because a rally to me is a celebration,” the president continued. “It’s going to be really a celebration and it’s an interesting date, it wasn’t done for that reason, but it’s an interesting date, but it’s a celebration.”
Trump also received criticism for selecting Tulsa for the rally because the city was the site of a 1921 massacre of black residents and the destruction of black-owned businesses.
Some Democrats accused the president of deliberately selecting June 19 and Tulsa for his rally in order to antagonize African-Americans amid the George Floyd protests. But the president insisted Friday that that wasn’t the case.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeated that assertion to reporters in Washington.
“The African-American community is very near and dear to his heart,” McEnany said.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this story.