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Concert Celebrating Juneteenth, Recorded At Portland's State Theatre, To Stream Friday

Willis Ryder Arnold
Maine Public
The State Theatre marquee in Portland displays a "Black Lives Matter" sign, seen June 5, 2020.

A group of Black musicians and performers will gather virtually Friday for a Juneteenth celebration in Portland commemorating the end of slavery.Juneteenth is an important holiday in the African American community, marking the day on which news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached rural Texas - two years after Abraham Lincoln's reading.

Credit Courtesy Janay Woodruff
An online ad for the Juneteenth virtual concert.

Singer Janay Woodruff organized the concert at the State Theatre to heighten awareness of the holiday, help organizations supporting the Black community in Maine and spark further conversations about racial equity.

"I have hope in my heart that this will lead to bigger change and bigger discussions," Woodruff says.

The event will also be streamed in partnership with Edovo, which provides communication and  educational services to jails and prisons across the country, where people of color are disproportionately represented.

Woodruff says the partnership was inspired in part by an uncle who was jailed for 25 years. "If  everyone isn't free, than no one is free. It's just a special moment to share with incarcerated folks who are stripped of so many experiences, and for them to see Black talent as well, and Black music."

The Juneteenth performances will be streamed from the State Theatre website. They were prerecorded in order to follow social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. Donations will benefit Indigo Arts Alliance and Black Owned Maine.