Juneteenth Marches, Vigils in Vermont, Maine, NH

Picnics, marches and performances are a few of many Juneteenth events happening across New England

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Events are planned across northern New England on Friday to mark Juneteenth, the day when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free 155 years ago.

From marches to rallies, the events come as support grows for the racial justice movement.

In Vermont, the first state to abolish adult slavery in 1777, criminal defense attorneys from around the state will be marching in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement at noon in Burlington and Bennington. A vigil is also being held in Essex to honor those who have died of police violence and Montpelier is hosting an evening event on the Statehouse lawn.

In Maine, Juneteenth events were planned from Caribou to Kennebunk.

Brunswick was holding a picnic and march. A church hosted an event in Bar Harbor, and a vigil was being held in Rockland. The largest event was planned rally outside Portland City Hall, followed by a march to Deering Oaks Park.

In 2011, Maine became the 38th state to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday. It requires the governor to issue a yearly proclamation designating the third Saturday in June as "Juneteenth Independence Day to commemorate the day freedom was proclaimed to all slaves in the South."

Gov. Janet Mills’ declaration commemorates "the strength and determination of African Americans who were first brought to American soil in the hulls of slave ships" and celebrating "the rich heritage and accomplishments of African Americans."

In New Hampshire, the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire in Portsmouth was hosting choral and drumming performances online Friday, the second day of a three-day celebration that also focuses on food and cooking. A celebration in Manchester was including free testing for COVID-19, in addition to speakers, hip hop artists, and an educational scavenger hunt that ties African-American inventions to locations around the city.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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