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Juneteenth is now a federal holiday celebrating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. It has been celebrated since June 19, 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, TX were finally liberated by Union soldiers, over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Juneteenth flag, designed by Ben Haith

The Juneteenth flag was created in 1997 by activist and organizer Ben Haith. He is also the founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation. Details about the flag’s design can be found in an article by Alliyah Logan in Parade Magazine:

“The Juneteenth flag symbolizes freedom and justice for Black Americans and African Americans. The colors of the flag are similar to the United States flag because all Americans are able to understand and recognize the importance of African American history. One can not separate African American history from America’s history and the flag reminds us of just that.

The colors of the flag were deliberately chosen by Haith and the collaborators to showcase that African Americans were always American even throughout enslavement. The Black community is one with America. The colors chosen furthers the notion that America must ensure that all citizens have access to ‘liberty and justice for all’.

The most noticeable feature of the flag is its star and arc. The star is another callback to the United States flag – representing that Black people are free in all 50th states. The Emancipation Proclamation was first to read and acknowledged in Galveston, Texas. Texas, also known as the Lone Star State played a significant role in the addition of the star. Although Texas was the state that the documentation was read in, it represents freedom across the nation. Alongside the star, the outlined burst and arc represent the new horizon and new opportunities that are to come for Black people.” 

Juneteenth Resources:

Previous PPL Blog Posts:

A photo from 1877 depicting a group of people gathered along the porch of a building in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Among the many people gathered is Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass, Old Orchard Beach, 1877
Contributed by Maine State Archives to Maine Memory Network

Even More Juneteenth Resources

Historic Places in Maine

Local Organizations and their missions:

  • Black Owned Maine Our mission is to promote economic empowerment for Black people in Maine
  • Portland Racial Justice CongressMobilizing for a more socially conscious, culturally vibrant, and racially just Portland
  • Tender TableCelebrating Black and Brown community by connecting and honoring our identities, traditions, joy, resilience, and fight for collective liberation through storytelling and food
  • Black Portland Organizers Working to End Racism (P.O.W.E.R)Through our work, we seek to end the systematic oppression of Black people
  • Southern Maine Workers’ Center“We’re a grassroots, member led organization working to improve the lives, working conditions, and terms of employment for working class and poor people in Maine”
  • The Alpha Legal FoundationIncreasing the number of underrepresented attorneys in Maine’s top positions of legal leadership and scholarship
  • I Am Willingprovides tools and resources specifically designed to help the Black community create legacy plans
  • Portland Empoweredstrives to ensure that student and parent voices are reflected in policy and practice within Portland Public Schools
  • The Third PlaceCreating An Equitable Quality of Place for Black Mainers
  • Maine Youth Action Network (MYAN)a statewide network of committed adults and passionate young people who believe in the transformative power of youth leadership
  • Survivor Speakformed to push the movement to address root causes of what we call ‘sexploitation’:  systemic poverty, racism, and misogyny

Other Organizations and their missions:

  • Black Spirit 4 LifeCelebrating cultural diversity through unity
  • The Greater Bangor Area Branch NAACPan all-volunteer, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to the eradication of racism in all its forms
  • Bowdoin Black Student UnionThe goal of the Black Student Union is to support all of its members academically and socially in order to help them reach the highest levels of achievement on campus.
  • Maine Inside Out activates individuals and communities to imagine and embody freedom through art, advocacy and support, and transformative justice
  • The Maine Women’s Fund“We are consciously, thoughtfully, and actively learning to use our organizational power and privilege to redistribute and rebalance power and resources”
  • Downeast DiversityStories of people and culture in Maine
  • The Mount Desert Island Racial Equity Working group“We are a group of Mount Desert Island residents who aim to deepen our understanding of power and privilege and to foster racial justice, equity, and inclusion on MDI and beyond, always recognizing our shared humanity”
  • Black Heritage Trail NHPromotes awareness and appreciation of African American history and life in order to build more inclusive communities today
  • Seacoast African American Cultural CenterSharing our history within the community