On 18 April 2017, the liberal blog Occupy Democrats reported that the majority of children that attended that the annual White House Easter Egg Roll held for the first time under President Donald Trump were white:
Yesterday, the White House’s held the annual Easter Egg Roll and while Trump’s gaffes inevitably took the spotlight away from the focus of the event – the children – and placed it back on our attention-obsessed narcissist-in-chief, it wasn’t long before it was noticed that an important tradition had been abandoned.
After the event had concluded, shrewd observers noticed something very disturbing but was perhaps to be expected from the #AmericaFirst White Supremacy House.
The attendees were almost overwhelmingly white children. The reason? Donald and Melania chose not to invite the local DC public school children that traditionally are invited to the White House Easter Roll.
During an 11 April 2017 press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that tickets to the event had been “sent out to all the schools in the area.” That was not the case. Representatives for all three immediately-surrounding public school districts, D.C., Arlington and Alexandria, all told us they did not receive tickets to the event this year, unlike in previous years. According to the New York Times, these districts have in the past received tickets for as many as 4,000 children to attend the event. Some observers noted that in photographs from the event, the children in attendance appeared to be majority white.
The reason these districts (all of which are racially diverse) were not invited was not immediately clear. We have asked both the Department of Education and the White House Press Office for a listing of schools or districts that received tickets but have not yet received a response.
A Department of Education spokesperson told us by e-mail that “hundreds of tickets” were provided to “traditional public schools, public charter schools, private schools and home school families” so long as their schools were not on spring break.
Although D.C. public schools (DCPS) were closed for spring break during the 17 April 2017 event, Alexandria schools were in session. Arlington schools were closed to students for a “grade preparation day” but like Alexandria had spring break the week before. In the preceding year, DCPS was invited to the 28 March 2016 Easter Egg Roll even though they were on spring break.
All three public school districts surrounding the White House are racially diverse. As of 2015, the latest figures available, Alexandria is 36 percent Hispanic, 29 percent black and 27 percent white. Arlington as of October 2016 is 47 percent white, 28 percent Hispanic and 10 percent black. D.C. Public Schools are predominantly African-American — 64 percent of the student body is black as of 2016, while 18 percent are Hispanic and 13 percent are white. (The District of Columbia overall is 48 percent African-American, with whites making up 44 percent and Hispanics totaling nearly 11 percent according to 2015 Census figures.)
On 11 April 2017, less than a week from the event, planning for the Trumps’ first Easter Egg Roll seemed to be off to a slow and rocky start. The Times noted that First Lady Melania Trump lives in New York with a limited presence in Washington D.C. and has been slow to hire the staff that would plan such things:
The evidence points to a quickly thrown-together affair that people close to the planning said would probably draw about 20,000 people — substantially smaller than last year’s Easter Egg Roll, which drew 37,000. It will be staffed by 500 volunteers, Ms. Grisham said, half the usual. Ms. Grisham said she did not have “firm numbers” on the overall number of attendees, and those who provided estimates did so on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to describe the plans for the Easter Egg Roll, which are still evolving just a week before the event. …
Washington-area public schools that normally receive blocks of tickets for as many as 4,000 children have yet to hear from the White House, according to representatives for school systems in the District of Columbia; Arlington, Va.; and Alexandria, Va. Several groups representing military families, who have accounted for as many as 3,000 guests in recent years, also said they had yet to be contacted.
“I’ve had quite a few families from across the country reach out and say: ‘Hey, are we getting tickets? Our family wants to drive in for the event,’” said Ashley Broadway-Mack, the president of the American Military Partner Association, which represents the families of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender service members and has received tickets for five to 10 of them for each of the last several years. “Unfortunately, the Trump administration has not reached out about it.” …
Members of Congress have not received word from the White House about whether they will get tickets to distribute to their constituents. One aide to a Republican lawmaker said White House officials “seem to be a bit behind schedule.”
What remains unclear is whether the Trump White House invited more schools and districts that simply chose not to attend — Frank Bellavia, spokesperson for Arlington Public Schools told us by phone that even if the district had received tickets, they would not have attended this year, simply because the logistics of transporting and chaperoning hundreds of children at a high-security event is taxing. Further, news reports leading up to the event indicate that it was hastily-planned and may have even caught the new administration off guard.
We do not have enough evidence to support or disprove claims that the children who were invited to and attended the 2017 Easter Egg Roll were more predominantly white than previous years without knowing which districts or schools were invited, and of those, which attended or declined to attend.