“Juneteenth” end to slavery to be celebrated



Flutist and instrument maker Hawk Henries is among Maine artists who will perform and speak in a live-streamed celebration to commemorate “Juneteenth.” The observance is to celebrate the official end of slavery June 19, 1865.
ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

BAR HARBOR — MDI Racial Equity Working Group and Healthy Acadia will host a live-streamed Juneteenth Celebration Performance, to observe Union soldiers announcing the end of slavery on June 19, 1865, online from noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 19, at www.healthyacadia.org/ce-juneteenth.

An array of Maine artists and speakers will come together to share their music and voices, to celebrate the rich culture of African Americans, to commemorate the ending of slavery and to honor the dedication and sacrifices of many people in the struggle for racial justice. The event also is to raise awareness about Juneteenth and the ongoing work to tackle racism and advance racial equity.

Performers include the Portland-based Pihcintu Multicultural Chorus, composed of refugee girls from all over the world who have made Maine their home; Rodney Mashia, who has been touching people’s hearts and making them smile for decades with his soulful music; musician and flute maker Hawk Henries, a member of the Chaubunagungamaug band of Nipmuck; and the Mount Desert Island High School Chorus.

June 19, 1865, is the day that Union soldiers announced in Galveston, Texas, that enslaved people had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation over two years prior. The day immediately became a cause of great celebration in Texas and then spread to become the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of emancipation across the country. Juneteenth is now recognized, in some form of observance in every state except Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota. A movement is growing to declare June 19 a federal holiday to more formally commemorate the ending of slavery.

“Juneteenth commemorates African-American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement,” says the website Juneteenth.com. “It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics, and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future. Its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long overdue.”

For more info, visit www.healthyacadia.org.

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