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Celebrations of Black History

The cover and one inside page of the 1973 Miss Black Teenage Pageant of Maine that was held in Portland.
The pageant was the second held in Maine, following one in 1971, and was sponsored by the Maine Association for Black Progress.
Karlene Carter, 16, of Bangor was the winner.
The other contestants, pictured on an inside page of the program, were Joni Clark, 15, Hermon; Karen Cummings, 13, Portland; Belinda Dashiell, 16, Auburn; Diana Johnson, 16, Brunswick; Judith Searcy, 15, Gorham; Joyce Young, 16, Portland; and Kathy Young, 15, Portland. From Maine Memory Network

PPL strives to celebrate the history of Black Americans throughout the year. In that spirit of celebration, we have compiled an incomplete list of local and regional events. These events are not affiliated with Portland Public Library. If you have an event that is not listed, please email Raminta Moore, Arts & Culture Librarian



“She Took Justice: The Black Woman, Law, and Power” with Gloria J. Browne-Marshall
Join law professor Gloria J. Browne-Marshall for a virtual lecture “She Took Justice: The Black Woman, Law, and Power.” She Took Justice explores the Black woman’s miraculous journey from Africa to political power brokers in American politics. Learn about the famous, infamous, and forgotten women in history from 1619 to 1969.
Friday, February 18, 2022 • 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm ONLINE


John Gaskill

John E. Gaskill, Portland, ca. 1925 Gaskill was admitted to the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. The Gaskills lived at 24 Montreal St. in Portland. Maine Memory Network photo

Black History Month: African American Artists and Inspirations
Registration is open for this unguided sketch event and all skill levels are welcome! Sign up today! It’s Free!
Sat, February 19, 2022 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM  ONLINE

Black History Month: How to be a Good Ally
We will talk about the history of Black History Month, modern day relevancy, whitewashing, Black queer media, and how to be a good ally.
Sat, Feb 19, 2022, 9:00 PM  ONLINE

An Afro-Caribbean in the Nazi Era: Oral History and the Black Family
How did an Afro-Caribbean civilian merchant sailor become a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II? What did he witness? How did he survive to tell about it? This presentation answers these questions through the story of Lionel Romney, the presenter’s father, who revealed his wartime experiences in an oral history.
Sat, 19 February 2022 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM   ONLINE

Abdi Iftin – Diversifying the Maine Outdoors
Our state of Maine is rich with nature, including gorgeous beaches, mountains, lakes, rivers and hiking and skiing spots. Many Mainers enjoy these activities, but many – including new Mainers, minority groups and disadvantaged communities – lack access to the Maine outdoors. This is due to economic challenges and, in many cases, the lack of information about the ways to access these opportunities. Abdi’s talk will focus on at least three ways we can help create inclusive outdoor activities.
Fri, February 25, 2022 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EST  AT L.L. Bean 95 Main Street, Freeport

Natasha Marin – Curator of Black Imagination
Poet and Conceptual Artist, Natasha Marin in conversation with the Colby community at Greene Block + Studios. Through the spring semester, Marin is working with a cohort of students to collaboratively create an exhibition engaging questions that shape her book, Black Imagination. Natasha will engage with the Colby community during this initial visit, while continuing to work with students to premiere their exhibition in April 2022.
Wed, February 23, 2022 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST
Greene Block + Studios 18 Main Street, Waterville

Black History Month Wellness Fair
Cross Cultural Community Services, in partnership with the Community Wellness Fair Planning Committee, is proud to present the second annual The Black History Month Community Wellness Fair! This event is designed to support families as they learn more about available services and general health best practices, to help them reduce stress, to ease the navigation process through the ongoing impacts of COVID, and to determine how we can best support each other during these difficult times. This year, the fair will take place from February 28th- March 3rd, 2022. Due to the ongoing nature of the pandemic, the fair will remain entirely virtual. However, we are very excited to feature many returning special guests as well as a variety of new panels. We are looking forward to making this year’s fair the best one yet! –ONLINE Please follow the link for daily schedules of events.

It’s A Family Affair: A Personal Conversation about Black History in Maine
with Bob Greene, Garrett Stewart, Pam Cummings and Krystal Williams
This panel discussion explores Black History in Maine with panelists sharing their family’s history and experience in Maine dating back to the 18th century. ACCESSIBLE ANY TIME


Mitchel Williams and wife

Mitchell Williams was the winner of the 1927 Portland to Peaks Island swim.
Standing behind him is his wife, Florence Eastman Williams, born in Portland in 1892. Mitchell Williams, also a Portland native, was a graduate of Tuskegee Institute. They married in 1912. –Photo from Maine Memory Network

Nineteenth-Century Black Politics in Maine
This panel discussions highlight important new research by Van Gosse (Franklin & Marshall University) whose book, The First Reconstruction: Black Politics in America, From the Revolution to the Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 2021), includes chapters devoted to the partisan politics of Black Mainers. Panelists Pamela Cummings (President of the Committee to Restore the Abyssinian Meeting House), Mary Freeman (University of Maine), and Bob Greene (Journalist & Independent Scholar) also share their research and insights. ACCESSIBLE ANY TIME


Groundwork | A Celebration of Black History Month Gospel Concert and Event
Rooted Soul Entertainment is delighted to bring you a joyful and peace filled gathering for an evening of Gospel music, comedy, poetry, and dancing to commemorate Black history in the United States. As we acknowledge and honor our ancestral forerunners, we welcome you into a sacred celebratory space to unite us one to another.
Thursday, February 24, 2022 6:00PM Merrill Auditorium, Portland

Cotton Town: Maine’s Economic Connections to Slavery
Maine Maritime Museum and Bowdoin College’s Africana Studies Department are embarking on a new collaboration that will investigate the complexities inherent in an underrepresented aspect of Maine maritime history: the Atlantic slave trade.
Now – May 8, 2022 Fees and Hour    Bath



Black Teen Voices – book list
PPL Teen: Black History is Now – book list
Black Publishing Power – book list
Newer Titles in Black History – book list

Black Freedom Struggle in the United States – a Digital Maine Library (DML) resource
The Diversity Studies Collection – DML
The US History Collection – DML
The Diversity Studies Collection – DML

Maine’s Visible Black History

Black History in Maine: The Stories and Contributions of Maine’s Black Individuals and Communities – an archived story from MPBN

George Floyd mural in Portland Maine

George Floyd’s murder by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, 2020 was filmed, and sparked a Black Lives Matter movement across the nation. In Portland, Floyd was memorialized with a large mural on the side of Aura Club on Center Street.
Portland artists Ryan Adams, Jason McDonald and Mike Rich painted the mural during June 2020, which includes the words “Again We Rise” along with the names of Black people who have been killed by police officers over the years across the United States. From Maine Memory Network.




posted: , by Raminta Moore
tags: Adults | Seniors | Art & Culture | Portland History
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