This Sunday marks the 156th anniversary of Juneteenth, a day that celebrates the release 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 that slavery had been abolished – two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the proclamation of ’emancipation.
The following year, Texas saw the first official Juneteenth celebrations—also known as Emancipation Day or Juneteenth Independence Day—and they quickly spread to other states.
This year’s observance is the second year the holiday has been recognized federally, and the first year it has been observed by many state governments. Non-essential federal government offices and buildings will be closed to observe June 19 on Monday, June 20, including United States Postal Service buildings. While many commercial businesses will remain open on Monday, Target and Best Buy will be closed for the holidays.
Here’s a running list of events across Maine marking Juneteenth Sunday:
— Biddeford: A June 16 celebration will take place on Sunday at Mechanics Park from 1 to 3 p.m. with music and light refreshments.
— Brunswick: A celebration exploring the meaning of Juneteenth, with music, art and cultural entertainment for all ages, held at the Lower Mall on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
— Damariscotta: A Juneteenth Party will take place from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday with a take-out picnic at Coastal Rivers’ Salt Bay Farm at 110 Belvedere Road, co-hosted by Bee AWARE and Coastal Rivers’ Conservation Trust.
— Ellsworth: A Nineteenth commemoration ceremony will be held from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Knowlton Park at 11 Shore Road on Sunday. The event will feature music, poets, speakers, authors and food.
– Portland: Juneteenth Freedom Celebration held at 200 Anderson St. on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., featuring food trucks, arts, culture and musical entertainment. A celebration will also take place in Congress Square Park on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., featuring performances of art, music and poetry.
– South Portland: A June 16 celebration will be held at Mill Creek Park/South Portland Library from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday. The event will have music and events for people of all ages.
— Wiscasset: An informal picnic and storytelling event to commemorate June 19 will be held on Wiscasset’s Common from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
– Auburn: A chalk and talk will take place from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. outside Edward Little High School on Harris Street. Participants can create art and learn to talk about racism.
—Bar Harbor: A Party will take place in the village square, where you can hear recordings of black voices and a 19-minute token bell at 6:19 p.m. The event begins at 6 p.m.
— Biddeford: Engine and the Maine Center for Electronic Music partner present an exhibition – The Slave Liberation Project – featuring the work of Portland-based artist Hi Tiger. The showcase exhibition, part of Biddeford’s Friday Art Walk, can be seen at the Engine space at 163 Main St. from 5.30pm.
— Brewer: The annual celebration at Joshua Chamberlain Park will not be open to the public this year. The Maine Human Rights Coalition, which has celebrated Juneteenth in the park for several years, instead encourages Mainers to celebrate the day in their own way.
— Caribou: A demonstration will take place at 6 p.m. outside the Caribou Public Library on High Street.
– Ellsworth: A rally will take place outside City Hall at 4 p.m., followed by a march on State and Main streets before returning to City Hall, where protesters will listen to speakers.
— Portland: Black Lives Matter Portland organizes a rally to mark the day. It starts at City Hall before protesters march to Deering Oaks. It will take place from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
— Portland: Congress Square Arts will host an afternoon of art, conversation and education to mark June 16. The event, organized by Athena Lynch in conjunction with Indigo Arts Alliance, Black Artist’s Forum, Maine Youth Justice and Little Chair Printing, runs from 3-6 p.m.
– Portland: The State Theater will broadcast musical performances featuring local black musicians and collect 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 the event can be followed via Facebook Live from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
—Rockland: A demonstration will be held at 4:30 p.m. at Chapman Park on Park Street.