An unexpected visitor that day set me straight.

I had no idea what Juneteenth was all about when I was told that James Varner was at the front desk here at the radio station.  I also had no idea who he was or what he was here for, a situation that our receptionist seemed to take great pleasure putting me into on a regular basis.

Mr. Varner told me that he was President of the Maine Human Rights Coalition, an organization to undo racism and discrimination here in our state.  He asked if we could get information on air and online about a gathering that day that would celebrate "Juneteenth" at Joshua Chamberlain Park here in Brewer.  Curious about what it was all about, I asked him to follow me upstairs to the studio.

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My first question was what was Juneteenth all about, and Mr. Varner went on to tell me that on June 19th, 1865, more than two months after the official end of the Civil War when the south's rebel army surrendered to Union troops commanded by our own General Joshua Chamberlain at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia,  Union General Gordon Granger and his Union soldiers finally made their way to Galveston, Texas, to inform slaves there that they were free.

While June 19th has been called a variety of things over the years it became a Federal holiday just this week, as our President and Vice President signed a new law making Juneteenth an official holiday, a day that all can now celebrate empowerment, equality, and diversity, for good reason.

Take a few moments to listen to Mr. Varner in the video recorded 4 years ago and maybe you'll learn something new like I did that day.

By the way, MDI Racial Equity Working Group and Healthy Acadia will be hosting an online event featuring music and speakers in celebration of Juneteenth this Saturday, beginning at noon.

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