President Donald Trump took credit for making Juneteenth, the 155-year-old holiday commemorating the end of slavery, “very famous” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week.
“I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,” said the president while discussing coverage of a widely-criticized plan to have his first rally in three months on June 19th, the date Americans celebrate the freeing of all slaves in Texas in 1865.
He eventually pushed his Tulsa, Okla., rally back to the 20th and revealed to the Wall Street Journal that he became aware of Juneteenth’s meaning when a black Secret Service officer explained it amid the uproar over his initial decision to hold the rally on the day of the holiday.
According to the Journal, Trump said he’d polled people around him and none had heard of Juneteenth. When he asked an aide during Wednesday’s Oval Office interview if she had, he was surprised to learn his administration had released statements commemorating the holiday every year he’s been in office.
“Oh really? We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement?” he asked, according to the paper, before declaring that “good.”
Juneteenth, also referred to as Freedom Day, commemorates when news of the abolition of slavery reached the last of the enslaved people in Galveston, Texas as the Union army read the federal order on June 19, 1865 almost two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
Trump’s team was criticized particularly for announcing a campaign rally on Juneteenth in Tulsa, where a white mob attacked black community members in 1921, amid national unrest and protest over systemic racism.