President Donald Trump will pursue the creation of a federal holiday for Juneteenth, which commemorates the cessation of slavery, a top adviser said Thursday.
Trump declined to endorse a legislative push earlier this year to make it a federal holiday. After hearing from members of the Black community, Ja’Ron Smith, who advises the president on related issues, said the president supports the establishment of a national holiday on June 19.
“The president listened to a lot of different stakeholders who have championed it being very important in the community,“ he said.
Smith spoke to McClatchy in advance of a speech that Trump will give on Friday in Atlanta that he said would provide new details on the Republican president’s agenda for Black America.
A two-page document the Trump campaign provided in advance of the speech included a commitment to make Juneteenth a national holiday. The document also listed efforts on criminal justice reforms and changes to health care aimed at addressing historic inequalities.
“Juneteenth as a holiday is important but the historic disparities are more important. People want success and opportunity more so than a holiday, and so we didn’t want to do that just in a vacuum, because we thought that the disparities that the president is trying to fix are a lot more important than just declaring a holiday,” Smith told McClatchy.
“But the holiday is important as well. So we wanted to make sure that whatever platform we put out was holistic in nature, and that’s what the president’s going to deliver tomorrow,” he said.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson told McClatchy earlier this year that an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery was under discussion at the White House. Congress holds the power to create federal holidays and legislation introduced by lawmakers in both major parties to designate Juneteenth has sat idle for months.
Trump’s campaign said the holiday would be part of the president’s “Platinum Plan” for African Americans that he is committing to pursue in a second term.
The president previously has said he would expand opportunity zones to help strengthen underserved areas. In his remarks Friday, Trump plans to commit to creating 3 million new jobs for Black Americans, 500,000 new Black-owned businesses, and $500 billion in access to capital in Black communities. His campaign said he would meet those goals through a mixture of tax and regulatory reforms and public-private partnerships. Additional details were not immediately available.