President Donald Trump unveiled a plan Friday that endorsed the creation of a federal Juneteenth holiday that commemorates the end of slavery and backed an initiative to make lynching a federal hate crime at an event courting Black voters in Atlanta.

On the defensive in a state where Republicans have long dominated, Trump is seeking to undercut Joe Biden’s support among Black voters, the cornerstone of the Democratic coalition in Georgia. He’s also expected to outline proposals that designate the Ku Klux Klan and Antifa as terrorist groups and boost investment in majority-Black communities.

The president landed at Dobbins Air Reserve Base at 2:10 p.m. and then will head to the Cobb Galleria Centre for a 2:40 p.m. speech on “Black Economic Empowerment.” He’s planning to depart from Dobbins around 4 p.m.

4:10 p.m.

John Burnett, a New York City businessman who flew to Atlanta Friday just for the speech was impressed.

“I have been loving Trump since I was small and I believe in what he has done and his economic vision,” Burnett said. “I don’t believe in a lot of fluff. Anybody not talking about jobs, business, and access to capital when it comes to the black community is not serious. He has done what he says he was gonna do.”

4:05 p.m.

Promising the “best is yet to come,” Trump closes out his speech and heads back to Dobbins Air Reserve Base.

3:55 p.m.

In a moment of levity, President Donald Trump turns to U.S. Sen. David Perdue:

“I had a great life. What the hell did I do this for, David? What did I do this for, David Perdue?”

3:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s mention of the Black Lives Matter movement, which he calls the “extreme socialist left,” prompts more jeers from the audience. He said “wealthy liberal hypocrites” are “fools” for investing in the protest effort, then promises to advance religious liberty initiatives and gun rights bills.

“We’re not going to be losing the Second Amendment,” he said, before mocking former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s failed run for the presidency.

3:45 p.m.

The crowd boos when President Donald Trump invokes Biden’s comments that they “ain’t Black” if they don’t vote for the Democrat.

“They want your vote and they forget all about you," he said of Democrats.

“Racial justice begins with Joe Biden’s retirement from public life.”

3:35 p.m.

No, President Donald Trump didn’t wade into the heated race between U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins in a special election to fill the final two years of retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term.

He did urge both to stay in the race to drive out turnout for him in November.

"They are two great people. I’m not going to skip them over. They thought it would be diplomatic. That’s not diplomatic. It’s stupid …

“I want to congratulate you both for fighting the good fight,” he added. “Don’t anybody get out. And everyone’s going to come with me. The only thing I know for sure: They’re all going to vote for me.”

3:30 p.m.

It was the tweet that changed the Republican runoff for governor in 2018: About six days before the election, President Donald Trump endorsed Brian Kemp over Casey Cagle, fueling his runaway victory.

On Friday, the president credited U.S. Sen. David Perdue with urging him to back Kemp, then the secretary of state, over Cagle. He said he reviewed Kemp’s record and found that he had never disparaged the president’s campaign.

Then, he shifted his focus to the November 2018 race between Kemp and Stacey Abrams. He asked Kemp his margin of victory over the Democrat.

From the crowd, Kemp answers: “About 51,000.”

Says Trump: “You know what that is for me? That’s Yankee Stadium.”


3:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump again tries to sow doubt about the November election, warning “we may end up in a dispute for a long time, but we’ll end up winning.” For three days, he has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the November vote, and he’s falsely claimed Democrats are plotting rampant voter fraud to defeat him in November.

3:15 p.m.

Introduced by Georgia football star Herschel Walker, President Donald Trump reprised his appeal to Black voters in 2016 in the opening moments of his speech Friday: “What the hell do you have to lose?”

“They make you big promises before every election, and then the moment they got to Washington they abandoned you and sold you out,” Trump said of Democrats to a cheering crowd of several hundred supporters, a group that was mostly Black. “You know it better than anyone else.”

He added: “It’s not fair, it’s not right and it’s not going to happen. Because we’re going to have such a victory like it’s never happened before.”

3 p.m.

Not surprisingly, each of the speakers Friday were Black, ranging from members of the clergy, business owners, students and GOP political candidates, including Angela King Stanton, who is running for Congress in Atlanta for John Lewis' old seat, and Kimberly Klacik, who is running for Elijah Cummings' old seat in Baltimore.

Speakers said Trump was a man who says what he feels, a sentiment that often gets mistaken for racism, one speaker said. Others called Trump a “man of God,” and “a champion of the underclass.” Others noted that he wasn’t a politician, because he kept all of his promises.

Considering we are in Atlanta, the speakers were not short of mentioning the civil rights movement. And on several occasions, quoted Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Harriet Tubman.

2:50 p.m.

Ben Carson, in comments leading up to a speech by President Donald Trump, proclaimed racism over.

“Racism now is a joke compared to what I put up with,” Carson said to cheers in front of a crowd of Black Trump supporters. “That is a joke. Everything won’t be racism after the election.”

Carson who was one of the first high-profile Blacks to support Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, was appointed HUD secretary by Trump after that election. He touted the Trump administration and drew a standing ovation for his support, calling Trump “A man of God.”

“He and I represented the same things. We felt the same policy-wise. We were a little different personality-wise,” said Carson, warning the crowd to be careful of people trying to destroy their history. " Your history gives you your identity. If you allow that to be destroyed, you become easy prey for anybody who comes along. Be wary of people who accuse you of doing what they are doing."

2:45 p.m.

One of the Georgia-based speakers is Kelvin King, owner of a construction business who drew some of the loudest applause with these remarks:

“Aren’t you tired of being manipulated? Aren’t you tired of being lied to?” said King.

“We’ve come through a lot and we can go through a lot. Right now, we’re not fighting against Donald Trump. He’s right outside. We’re fighting against evil, against factions that want to break up our family.”

2:35 p.m.

A few protesters and Trump supporters have gathered outside the Cobb Galleria.

2 p.m.

Even as President Donald Trump prepared to speak, the White House sent word that Vice President Mike Pence would return to Georgia next week to headline a religious conference. It’s yet another indication of how crucial Georgia is to the president’s re-election strategy. Read more here.

1:45 p.m.

Before Trump came on stage, the campaign played a series of video and trotted out speakers, including Edward Muldrow, chairman of the Gwinnett County Republican Party and Ja’Ron Smith, assistant to the president for domestic policy, who paraphrased Martin Luther King Jr. to say that Black people had been in the wilderness until Trump was elected in 2016.

One of the most emotional videos was a tribute to Herman Cain.

Cain died July 30 at the age of 74. The Henry County resident had been hospitalized for a month with COVID-19 after traveling throughout much of June, including to a rally for his ally President Donald Trump.

On Friday, the Trump Campaign gave out free t-shirts, hats and most importantly, masks to whoever entered and wanted one.

But inside of the ballroom, more people seemed to be wearing the t-shirts and hats than masks.

09/25/2020 - Atlanta, Georgia - Members of the crowd take selfies, sans masks, before the start of the Blacks for Trump campaign rally at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Friday, September 25, 2020.  (Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

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Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

1 p.m.:

A group of protesters is preparing to gather outside the Cobb Galleria Centre to greet President Donald Trump’s arrivals with jeers, including this truck that will circle the site of his event.

Noon: A (semi) Definitive Donald Trump Musical Playlist

So what does a Donald Trump soundtrack sound like?

As supporters filed in, an eclectic mixture of pop, classic rock, ’80s jams and even classical music gently filled the halls. Here is a sampling of songs that played between 10:45 and noon.

My Way – Frank Sinatra

Beat It – Michael Jackson

Rocket Man – Elton John

Losing My Religion – R.E.M

Billie Jean – Michael Jackson

The Lord’s Prayer - Andrea Bocelli & the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Ava Maria (Caccini) - Maria Ferrante

Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) – Elton John

My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme from the Titanic) – Celine Dion

I Want it That Way – Backstreet Boys

Space Oddity – David Bowie

House of the Rising Sun – The Animals

Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

Gloria – Laura Branigan

We are the Champions – Queen

Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen

09/25/2020 - Atlanta, Georgia - Campaign pins are available for purchase before the start of a Blacks for Trump campaign rally at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Friday, September 25, 2020.  (Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

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Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

11:30 a.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden blasted President Donald Trump’s “failed leadership” amid the coronavirus pandemic and movement for social justice ahead of the Republican’s visit Friday to Atlanta. Read the full story here.

11:15 a.m.

Conservative superstar CJ Pearson, an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Alabama

“This is an incredible event and we are gonna see today, a president with a comprehensive plan for America,” Pearson said. “He is going to deliver concrete policies and put his money where his mouth is.”

Pearson gained attention during the Obama administration for openly criticizing America’s first black president. He has since risen about Black Conservative ranks as one of their strongest and youngest voices.

“There is a loud and growing silent majority [of Blacks], who understand the work that the president has done,” Pearson said. “There is a social stigma connected with being conservative and Black. But we have a lot of courage.”

CJ Pearson and Katie Curd, both freshmen at the University of Alabama, attending the  Trump rally.

Credit: AJC

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Credit: AJC

10:45 a.m.

Lines have been forming all morning for people getting ready to see and hear President Donald Trump. Billed as an event to energize Black voters, most of the people in line are Black Trump supporters wearing red MAGA hats and white “Blacks for Trump” t-shirts.

Earl Smith, dressed in a blue three-piece suit was one of the first in line. In his bag, he carried a newspaper and a magazine article about a letter Trump sent the U.S. Army veteran commemorating him for bravery.

“The narrative that they have about him about the military is false. He loves the military,” Smith said. “I believe Black people will vote for him because they see what he has done for them. He cares about Black people.”

Trump supporter Earl Smith.

Credit: Ernie Suggs

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Credit: Ernie Suggs

Trump is expected to hit the stage at 1:45 p.m.

Original story

President Donald Trump is expected to endorse the creation of a federal Juneteenth holiday that commemorates the end of slavery at a speech Friday courting Black voters in Atlanta.

On the defensive in a state where Republicans have long dominated, Trump is seeking to undercut Joe Biden’s support among Black voters, the cornerstone of the Democratic coalition in Georgia.

The president is set to touch down at Dobbins Air Reserve Base at 2 p.m. and then will head to the Cobb Galleria Centre for a 2:40 speech on “Black Economic Empowerment.” He’s set to depart from Dobbins around 4 p.m.

McClatchy reports the president will commit to making Juneteenth a national holiday, create 3 million new jobs for Black Americans and clear the way for $500 billion in access to capital in Black communities through tax overhauls, regulatory changes and partnerships with private firms.

He’s also expected to designate the Ku Klux Klan and Antifa as terrorist organizations, and endorse an effort to make lynching a federal crime for the first time, in what backers of the initiative call an overdue recognition of the nation’s history of racist violence, Fox News reported.

Trump faced stinging criticism when he scheduled a campaign rally on June 19 - the date known as Juneteenth - amid protests over racial justice in Tulsa, home to one of the nation’s most violent outbreaks of racist attacks. He delayed the rally rather than hold it on the day honoring the end of slavery in the U.S.

The Trump campaign has intensely focused on Georgia, a state Republicans need to keep in their column to have a shot at his re-election. Republicans have carried Georgia in every presidential election since 1996, but Biden’s campaign is aiming to expand the battleground map and reverse the trend.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll released this week showed the race for president couldn’t be closer in Georgia, pegging the two at 47% apiece.

Check back here for updates.