CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago discusses how some Native Americans and African Americans feel about Mount Rushmore and the president’s decision to speak there.
JAKE TAPPER: In our national LEAD today, there has been something of a sea change in American public opinion in just the last few weeks when it comes to efforts to understand that members of minority groups, perhaps especially Black-Americans, can have a very different experience living in the United States than whites. And while Americans of all stripes celebrate Independence Day, the Fourth Of July, for some in these historically marginalized groups, the Fourth Of July holiday can be bittersweet, as CNN’s Leyla Santiago reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fireworks, parades, ceremonies. The celebration of U.S. independence once declared by founding fathers that wrote, all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But the very rights being celebrated on Independence Day are the same rights that millions of Americans say they and their ancestors have not been allowed to enjoy. SANTIAGO (on camera): What does Independence Day mean to you? JESSE HOLLAND, AUTHOR, “THE INVISIBLES”: I will always be a proud American. But that doesn’t mean I don’t realize the faults and the flaws that this country has, SANTIAGO (voice-over): For historian and author Jesse Holland, that includes the injustice that has led to unrest across the country, the inequalities in communities of color highlighted by a pandemic. HOLLAND: I think it’s fair to sometimes question whether America loves African-Americans as much as we love it. OPAL LEE, ACTIVIST CALLING FOR JUNETEENTH NATIONAL HOLIDAY: We can solve these problems if we just do it together. SANTIAGO: For 93-year-old Opal Lee, independence must commemorate the freedom for all, including Juneteenth, the day enslaved people in Texas learned that all those enslaved in Confederate states had been freed. LEE: And I’m advocating that we have Juneteenth from the 19th to the Fourth of July. You know, slaves weren’t free on the Fourth of July. SANTIAGO: As Americans face a reckoning over racism past and present, there’s no message of healing from the White House. Instead President Trump is calling a Black Lives Matter street mural a symbol of hate after New York City announced it would be painted in front of Trump Tower. He’s also demanding protection for symbols of Confederacy at campaign rallies. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The unhinged leftwing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments. SANTIAGO: During diplomatic visits. TRUMP: Not going to happen, not as long as I’m here. SANTIAGO: And even on Twitter. And he’s refusing to sign anything changing the names of military bases named after Confederate leaders. HOLLAND: I am hopeful that we will, as a country, decide that the Confederacy is something to be studied, not something to be glorified, and we’re able to actually celebrate who we are when we celebrate Independence Day. (END VIDEOTAPE) SANTIAGO: And, Jake, kicking off the Independence Day weekend, President Trump will be at Mt. Rushmore where he’ll be standing in front of a monument of two slave owners and on land wrestled away from Native Americans told that be focusing on the effort to, quote, tear down our country’s history.