Racist Sign Mocking Juneteenth Draws Rebuke From Maine Town

The chair of the town council said "such a blatant disregard of human decency" has no place in Millinocket

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A Maine town has condemned a "disgraceful" sign posted in a window that mocked Juneteenth using racist stereotypes of Black people.

The sign on a business window in Millinocket said of Juneteenth, the federal holiday that marks the end of slavery in the United States, "it's whatever… We're closed." That was followed by a reference to foods that have historically been used to give a negative impression of Black people.

Alura Stillwagon posted an image of the sign to Facebook on Monday, writing, "The racism in Millinocket is real." She told NPR that her mother told her about the sign, and that she was shocked by it.

"People have this idea that Maine isn't very racist and that it's pretty liberal. But up north, it's not like that at all," she told the news organization.

The chair of the town council said "such a blatant disregard of human decency" has no place in Millinocket.

"It is deeply saddening, disgraceful and unacceptable for any person, business or organization to attempt to make light of Juneteenth and what it represents for millions of slaves and their living descendants," Steve Golieb said in a statement Tuesday, calling the community welcoming and inclusive.

A phone number listed for the business where the sign was posted was busy when several calls were made requesting comment Wednesday.

Juneteenth marks June 19, 1865, when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached the last people still in slavery in the American South. It's been celebrated by some people in the country for decades, but was made a federal holiday last year.

Brandon Byrd, Associate Professor of History at Vanderbilt University, joins LX News to discuss the history of Juneteenth. 
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