(Editor's note: Following the original publication of this media advisory, President Trump announced that he is rescheduling his Tulsa campaign rally after criticism that it was set for Juneteenth.)

Continuing protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement will bring heightened attention to Juneteenth – an annual June 19 commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States and a growing celebration of the black experience, says a Virginia Tech expert.

“The protests that started with the killing of George Floyd will undoubtedly spread to Tulsa, Oklahoma,” said Wornie Reed, director of Virginia Tech’s Race and Social Policy Center. “Many will protest President Trump holding a political rally in Tulsa that day — this on top of Trump’s record on race and Tulsa being the site of the greatest massacre of African Americans in the history of the United States.”

Juneteenth honors the day in 1865 on which, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, and announced the news of the proclamation to enslaved African Americans. That coastal area of Texas was the last to hear that the Civil War had ended two months earlier.

Many companies are beginning to recognize the importance of Juneteenth, and are making it a paid annual holiday. Reed, however, rejects the notion that it should become a national holiday.

“No, I do not think Juneteenth should be a national holiday,” said Reed. “I would suggest The Emancipation Proclamation, which was signed by President Lincoln on September 22, 1862, and issued on January 1, 1863. It declared that all slaves in the states currently engaged in rebellion against the Union ‘shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.’”

About Wornie Reed

Wornie Reed is the director of the Race and Social Policy Research Center and a professor of Africana Studies and sociology in Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. His areas of expertise includes race, ethnic health disparities, social policy and criminal justice.

Reed also has several connections to the civil rights movement: he marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and saw over 30 of his speeches; he attended King’s funeral in Atlanta and marched in Memphis; he participated in the Poor People's’ Campaign, the 1963 March on Washington and the Montgomery Bus Boycott; He also participated with the Olympic Committee for Human Rights which sponsored the Black Power salute boycott.

Reed’s expertise has been featured in TIME,  HuffPost, WSLS (Virginia NBC affiliate),  WVTF (Virginia NPR affiliate), Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, and the Philadelphia Tribune, to name a few.    

Schedule an interview:  Contact Bill Foy at fwill55@vt.edu or 540-998-0288.

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