PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's U.S. senators are joining a push to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in America and takes place on June 19.

Fred Bever / Maine Public

People around Maine paused Friday to mark Juneteenth, the day in 1865 that a Union Army general announced in Galveston, Texas that all slaves in that state were free – a culmination of President Lincoln’s 1863 emancipation proclamation.

Jennifer Mitchell / Maine Public

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

Willis Ryder Arnold / Maine Public

A group of Black musicians and performers will gather virtually Friday for a Juneteenth celebration in Portland commemorating the end of slavery.


As more companies recognize Juneteenth and offer it as a company holiday, we discuss the historical roots of Juneteenth and its context during today’s Black Lives Matter protests and movement for civil rights. Juneteenth commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States. How has America grappled with the legacy of slavery, and how has it led to today’s struggles over systemic racism?

Corporate executives and sports officials are joining a growing number of elected officials who want to recognize Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end of slavery, as an official U.S. holiday. The movement is being fueled by the Black Lives Matter protests demanding reforms following the killing of 46-year-old George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25.

Juneteenth, which is on June 19, has long been an important holiday in the African American community, a time for celebration rather than mourning and remembrance.