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- This week, in honor of Juneteenth (opens in new tab), actor and activist George Clooney donated $500,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative (opens in new tab), which works to end mass incarceration and challenge race and economic injustice.
- In a statement released in conjunction with the donation, Clooney sarcastically "thanked" Donald Trump for "making Juneteenth famous."
- Clooney's statement references claims Trump made in a recent interview in which he took credit for making people aware of the longstanding, widely-celebrated holiday.
The actor donated $500,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative (opens in new tab) this week in honor of the longstanding holiday, also known as Jubilee Day or Freedom Day, which marks the official end of slavery in the United States, which finally happened on June 19, 1865.
"Thank you President Trump for 'making Juneteenth famous.' Much like when Bull Connor made 'Civil Rights' famous," Clooney said in a statement to People (opens in new tab) about the donation. "My family will be donating 500 thousand dollars to the Equal Justice Initiative in honor of your heroic efforts."
The sarcastic statement compares Trump to Bull Connor, a politician in Alabama who infamously opposed the Civil Rights movement (opens in new tab) in the 1960s. Connor was serving as Birmingham's Commissioner of Public Safety in 1961 when the Freedom Riders came to the city and was known as an "ultra-segregationist" with ties to the KKK.
Clooney's (opens in new tab) statement is in reference to claims Trump made during a recent interview about his self-perceived role in raising awareness for the holiday.
"I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous," he told the Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab). "It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it."
Activists (and people with a basic awareness of American history) understandably took issue with the claims, since Juneteenth has been widely celebrated and recognized for years. The holiday has been informally celebrated since 1865 and is currently recognized as a state holiday in 46 states. It's also on its way to becoming a national holiday. Last year, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution (opens in new tab) recognizing "Juneteenth Independence Day" as a national holiday, although it has yet to be approved in the House.
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Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
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