George Clooney still knows how to get in a fierce zinger. The 59-year-old actor took President Donald Trump to task after he claimed that he “did something good” by making Juneteenth “very famous.” June 19 is the date that recognizes the emancipation of the last remaining slaves in the United States in 1865. George used Trump’s wild boast to throw shade at him for now being associated with the holiday for all of the wrong reasons.
“Thank you President Trump for ‘making Juneteenth famous.’ Much like when Bull Connor made ‘Civil Rights’ famous. My family will be donating 500 thousand dollars to the Equal Justice Initiative in honor of your heroic efforts,” George announced in a statement to PEOPLE magazine on June 19. Bill was an Alabama politician in the mid 1960s who was vehemently opposed to civil rights for Black Americans. As Birmingham’s Commissioner of Public Safety, he ordered police attack dogs and hoses deployed on those peacefully marching for civil rights. So Clooney’s statement was a major diss to Trump.
Trump being associated with Juneteeth stemmed from his campaign scheduling a rally in Tulsa, OK, on June 19, 2020. In 1921, the city was the scene of one of America’s darkest moments of racial carnage and destruction. A White mob burned down the majority of the city’s thriving Black Greenwood area, leaving at least 39 people dead, another 800 injured and nearly all of the neighborhood’s Black owned businesses in ashes. So Tulsa would have been an extremely insensitive place for Trump hold a rally for his predominantly White, conservative followers on Juneteenth.
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
By Trump initially scheduling a large scale campaign stop in Tulsa on Juneteenth, he infuriated Black leaders. Especially since he has been railing against those protesting throughout the month June on behalf of Black Lives Matter, which included the gassing of peaceful protesters outside of the White House. “This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists – he’s throwing them a welcome home party,” California Senator Kamala Harris tweeted after Trump announced the Juneteenth Tulsa appearance. The president’s campaign later moved the date to June 20 after mounting pressure.
After the dust-up, Trump bragged to the Wall Street Journal‘s Michael C. Bender in an interview conducted on June 16 that, “I did something good. I made it famous. I made Juneteenth very famous. It’s actually an important event, it’s an important time. But nobody had heard of it. Very few people have heard of it. Actually, a young African-American Secret Service agent knew what it was. I had political people who had no idea.”
An assistant then reminded Trump that the White House put out a statement last year recognizing the importance of Juneteenth. The president also explained that he moved the rally date to the 20th, “out of respect because I had two African-American friends and supporters. And most people, and I went to a lot of people, they had not heard the term Juneteenth.”