This is an excerpt of a post by Helio Fred Garcia on Medium, originally published on June 20, 2020.
President Trump chose to hold his first campaign rally since the COVID-19 lock down in Tulsa on Juneteenth.
Tulsa is the city where the largest single act of American racial violence took place: the Greenwood massacre in 1921 that left 300 dead and 8,000 homeless. For decades the massacre was scrubbed from the public records and kept out of history books.
Juneteenth is the commemoration of the end of slavery. After an outcry, the campaign moved the rally by one day. But still on Juneteenth weekend, and still in Tulsa.
This followed weeks of Black Lives Matter protests and civil unrest, and it came in the same week that Facebook banned a number of Trump campaign ads that included a Nazi image.
It is unlikely that the Trump campaign’s decision of where and when to hold the rally is an accident: Trump has a history of appealing to white supremacists. He follows a predictable pattern. And now is the time for civic leaders, engaged citizens, and public officials to name the pattern and to hold him accountable. Otherwise he will intensify his racially divisive language as the presidential campaign moves into full swing.
White Supremacists Took Credit for Trump’s Win
I am a communication and leadership professor at New York University and Columbia University, and have spent the last two years studying Trump’s language for a forthcoming book. In Words on Fire: The Power of Incendiary Language and How to Confront It, I document what I call Trump’s dance with white supremacists.