LeBron James, Trevor Noah and Madonna all retweeted Kimberly Jones’ passionate speech about race. Now the activist is explaining why the timing of Trump’s rally was so hurtful.
But the 44-year-old Atlanta resident isn’t holding her breath that he’ll say sorry anytime soon.
President Trump, 74, caused outrage when his reelection campaign announced on June 5 that he would hold a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma (the site of a terrifying 1921 race massacre) on Juneteenth. But, even though he eventually changed the date out “of respect” for the African American holiday, Kimberly says that’s not enough.
“No I’m not pleased with it,” the activist and author tells HollywoodLife. “There should have been a profuse apology. There should have been an announcement of wanting to better educate themselves about what happened here to his Black citizens, but we’re not going to get that. So, at that point, after he did it, there was nothing he could have done that would have pleased me.”
Asked if she thinks the original timing of the rally was deliberate, Kimberly doesn’t hesitate. “There’s no way you could combine those two moments together and not be aware of what that would mean to people. [If he was unaware] then that’s even sadder.”
Kimberly specifically mentioned the Tulsa Massacre in her nearly 7-minute long speech about race that went viral in early June. (See above.) Her passionate explanation of why thousands of Black people took to the streets, angry and in pain after generations of racial inequality in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, lit up social media. Viewed nearly 2 million times on YouTube it was shared by LeBron James, Trevor Noah, Lizzo and Madonna.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 6, 2020
The Tulsa Massacre of 1921 was sparked after a Black man was accused of assaulting a White woman. A White mob razed the affluent African American district of Greenwood (which was dubbed Black Wall Street) to the ground, the residents were slaughtered, the National Guard deployed and turpentine bombs were dropped from the air. Nearly a century later the atrocity is little known.
“It was an epicenter of Black wealth and the building of Black wealth, and so they bombed it,” Kimberly says. “And the fact that it’s not taught is astonishing to me… It was done by America to its own citizens for nothing other than petty vengeance and jealousy and white supremacy.”
The initial date of Trump’s rally, Juneteenth – when the last remaining slaves were told they were free, months after the Civil War ended in April 1865 – added insult to injury.
At the end of her viral video (which is a snippet from an upcoming documentary called How Can We Win), Kimberly looks at the camera and says, “And they are lucky that what Black people are looking for is equality and not revenge.”
What Kimberly wants is for the people who have been inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement to get organized. “We need to vote. We also need to lobby to get some of these laws changed,” she says, also noting, “It’s time that people start doing active work… Now that we have the ear of everyone, it’s time that we actually do some work that [is] going to make the changes necessary.”
Kimberly Jones is the author of the young adult novel, I’m Not Dying With You Tonight, which she co-wrote with Gilly Segal.
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