OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt praised President Donald Trump after the president backed down in the face of widespread criticism and rescheduled his first campaign rally in months away from the Juneteenth observance of the end of slavery in the U.S.
Besides objecting to the date of June 19, the African American community and political leaders also took issue with Trump's decision to host the rally in Tulsa, the site 99 years ago of one of the deadliest white-on-black racist attacks in American history.
In a tweet late Friday, Trump said he was moving the rally to June 20 because "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."
Stitt, a Republican, said in a statement Friday night that he looks forward to hosting the president in Tulsa and celebrating the restarting of the state's economy after coronavirus shutdowns.
"I am thankful President Trump recognizes the significance of June 19 and has chosen to move his campaign rally out of respect to Oklahomans and the important Juneteenth celebrations," Stitt said.
In a previous statement welcoming Trump, Stitt didn't mention Juneteenth.
Trump's rallies have been on hiatus since March because of the coronavirus pandemic. A turnabout in the face of criticism is rare for Trump.
"To choose the date, to come to Tulsa, is totally disrespectful and a slap in the face to even happen," said Sherry Gamble Smith, president of Tulsa's Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce, an organization named after the prosperous black community that white Oklahomans burned down in a 1921 attack.