White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday defended President TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Korea conducts potential 6th missile test in a month Kemp leading Perdue in Georgia gubernatorial primary: poll US ranked 27th least corrupt country in the world MORE's decision to restart his campaign rallies next week in Tulsa, Okla., on Juneteenth, calling the holiday marking the emancipation of slaves very "meaningful" for him.
The president is slated to restart in-person rallies on June 19 after the coronavirus pandemic kept him from physically campaigning for more than three months.
“The African American community is very near and dear to his heart," McEnany told reporters, after being asked if it was appropriate for the president to be holding such a rally on Juneteenth. "At these rallies he often shares the great work he has done for minority communities."
Question: "Is it appropriate for him to be holding a rally on Juneteenth?"— The Hill (@thehill) June 11, 2020
Kayleigh McEnany: "Look, President Trump is -- the African American community is very near and dear to his heart." pic.twitter.com/jvQKrVh69E
She also cited the president's work on prison reform and told the press that he was responsible for the "lowest African American unemployment numbers."
Trump's decision to hold a rally on Juneteenth has drawn ire from his critics, who have pointed not only to the significance of the day to black Americans, but to Tulsa's dark, racist history.
On May 31 and June 1, 1921, the city's Greenwood District — its main African American community — was attacked and looted by white rioters, leading to multiple deaths and the mass internment of the city's black population.
Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisClyburn predicts Supreme Court contender J. Michelle Childs would get GOP votes Hispanics sour on Biden and Democrats' agenda as midterms loom Officer who directed rioters away from senators says Jan. 6 could have been a 'bloodbath' MORE (D-Calif.) blasted Trump for the scheduled rally on Twitter earlier Thursday:
This isn't just a wink to white supremacists—he's throwing them a welcome home party. https://t.co/lUXpnUoFQU— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 11, 2020
Trump has been accused of racism at multiple points during his presidency, a record that has resurfaced amid his handling of nationwide protests and unrest following the police killing of George Floyd on May 25.
On Wednesday, Trump received criticism after he said that he wouldn't change the name of Army bases that bear the names of military leaders who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.