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Mainers Commemorate Juneteenth At Underground Railroad Memorial In Brewer

Jennifer Mitchell
Maine Public
Varner stands beside the memorial commemorating the underground railroad in Brewer

Mainers Friday are observing Juneteenth, a date that has come to signify and commemorate an end to slavery in the United States.

One small gathering was held at the state's memorial to the underground railroad in Brewer.

"I'm feeling that there's some hope with the recent cold-blooded murder of George Floyd and the galvanization of people in this country and throughout the world."

That's 86-year-old civil rights advocate James Varner addressing a small gathering just outside Joshua Chamberlain Park. He says that he is deeply sad that it took the death of George Floyd to galvanize people to action. He also says the advent of social media and the widespread use of cell phone cameras has made violent racism difficult to ignore.

But, Varner also says that after 50 years of civil rights action, he finally sees what he calls "light at the end of the tunnel.” "You've lifted my spirit. You've energized me! You've energized me. I feel your love! And it's warm, it's comforting. It's inspiring!"

Varner also spoke on Friday's Maine Calling.