Maine Democratic Party Chair Bev Uhlenhake and Vice Chair Julian Rogers issued the following statement commemorating Juneteenth:

“On this day in 1865, the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas were finally notified of their freedom, more than two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom and justice long delayed and denied for Black Americans.

“Juneteenth reminds us of the historical truth that our nation was not inherently free & equal at its founding in 1776. We must acknowledge our shared past, and embrace the full breadth of our nation’s history, including the stories and experiences of Black Americans. In a stunning betrayal of our country’s Democratic values, some Republican politicians now want to ban the teaching of this history in our public schools.

“In order to fulfill the ideals on which our nation was founded, we must first reckon with the fact that Black Americans are still systematically denied equity and justice. Far too often Black Americans experience inequality in opportunities with regard to health care, housing, education, economic mobility, safety, and even their ability to participate in our democracy. We are proud of the ongoing work that Democrats are doing to address these disparities, from legislation in Congress and the State House, to the establishment this year of the Maine Democratic Party’s new permanent committee on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB), to the individuals across Maine working to support their neighbors and make their communities more welcoming.”

Maine Democratic Party DEIB Committee Chair Reese Remington added the following:

“As Democrats continue to ensure democracy is upheld and American history is not erased, Juneteenth is a reminder of the progress we have made and the work we still have to do. This includes the fact that the persistence of race based economic inequality in this country means that while many White Americans are celebrating the long weekend, many Black Americans will spend the holiday working to support their families. We encourage our allies to honor Juneteenth by using this time to educate themselves, take part in celebrations, and acknowledge the material and emotional labor being done by Black Americans today and everyday.

“It is imperative that our allies recommit collectively to the anti-racist work we set out to do back in 2020. Support Black businesses, provide economic relief to BIPOC mutual aid, and make strides to build a better community with those who have different identities from yourself.

“I urge Democrats to look past the statements and what we see on social media. I urge you to explore what community means to you and how that can be accomplished. I urge you to be proactive against the continuous rise of white supremacy in Maine. Lastly, I urge you to sit in the discomfort of growth in the work we do. It is only in this discomfort that we can start to build a truly equitable framework for all Mainers - no matter the race, sex, class, or gender.”

Note: Maine Democratic Party offices will be closed today, June 19th in observance of the Juneteenth holiday.