Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford said the president did not initially see it as disrespectful to hold his planned comeback rally on Juneteenth, a date which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
"He didn't see it as disrespectful to be able to do it on Juneteenth," the Republican senator said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." "Other people interpreted it differently, and so he moved the rally date."
President Donald Trump said Friday he would not hold the planned campaign rally on June 19. Instead, Trump announced he'd move the rally by one day out of respect.
"Many of my African American friends and supporters have reached out to suggest that we consider changing the date out ... of respect for this Holiday, and in observance of this important occasion and all that it represents," Trump posted on Twitter. "I have therefore decided to move our rally to Saturday, June 20th, in order to honor their requests."
The rally is set to take place in Tulsa, Okla., site of one of the most brutal race massacres in U.S. history.
Lankford told host Jake Tapper there were several people who talked to the president about the rally "just to be able to raise the issue."
He also acknowledged it's been 99 years since the massacre, "where a white mob ransacked through the Greenwood district, what was called at that time the Black Wall Street and killed up to 300 people and burned that part of the city to the ground," Lankford said. (Some historians place the death toll higher.)
"There are special sensitivities there in Tulsa. But Juneteenth is a very significant day," Lankford said. "So my encouragement to the president was to be able to pick a day around it."
"Actually interestingly enough when I talked to him, I called him on a different reason, he raised it to me and said, 'What do you think about this? I'm thinking about it, other people have asked me about it.,'" he added. "I suggested, yes, I think that'd be a great idea and it'd be very, very respectful to the community. His immediate response was I don't want to do anything to be able to disrespect the black community."