Friday marks the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, a day that celebrates the liberation of the last black men, women and children held in slavery in the United States.
On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, where black men and women finally learned slavery had been abolished — two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the emanicipation proclamation.
The following year, Texas saw the first official Juneteenth — also known as Emancipation Day or Juneteenth Independence Day — celebrations, and they soon spread to other states.
This year’s observance comes in the wake of high-profile police killings of black men and women — including George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky — that have caused widespread civil unrest over racism and police brutality.
Here is a running list of events throughout Maine marking Juneteenth. People are encouraged to wear masks and practice proper social distancing at all events.
— Auburn: A Chalk and Talk will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. outside Edward Little High School on Harris Street. Attendees can create art and learn to talk about racism.
— Bar Harbor: A celebration will be held at the village green, where you can hear recordings of black voices and a symbolic 19-minute bell ringing at 6:19 p.m. The event begins at 6 p.m.
— Biddeford: Engine and the Maine Center for Electronic Music are partnering to present an exhibit — The Slave Liberation Project — featuring the work of Portland-based artist Hi Tiger. The storefront exhibit, part of Biddeford’s Friday Art Walk, can be viewed at Engine’s space at 163 Main St. starting at 5:30 p.m.
— Brewer: The annual celebration at Joshua Chamberlain Park will not be open to the public this year. The Maine Human Rights Coalition, which has marked Juneteenth at the park for several years, instead is encouraging Mainers to celebrate the day in their own way.
— Caribou: A demonstration will be held at 6 p.m. outside the Caribou Public Library on High Street.
— Ellsworth: A rally will be held outside the City Hall at 4 p.m., followed by a march on State and Main streets before returning to City Hall, where demonstrators will listen to speakers.
— Portland: Black Lives Matter Portland is organizing a rally to mark the day. It starts at City Hall before demonstrators march to Deering Oaks. It will run from 3 to 9 p.m.
— Portland: Congress Square Arts will host an afternoon of art, conversation and education to mark Juneteenth. The event, organized by Athena Lynch in collaboration with Indigo Arts Alliance, Black Artist’s Forum, Maine Youth Justice and Little Chair Printing, runs from 3 to 6 p.m.
— Portland: The State Theatre will be streaming music performances showcasing local black musicians and raising donations to support Indigo Arts Alliance and Black Owned Maine. Bangor Savings Bank will match $2,500 in donations and Coffee By Design will match $1,000 in donations. The event can be attended via Facebook Live from 8 to 9 p.m.
— Rockland: A demonstration will be held at 4:30 p.m. at Chapman Park on Park Street.