This week, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to make Juneteenth, the day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, a public holiday. The State of Maine has also declared it a state holiday. We celebrate our Governments’ commitment to the continuing work of assuring justice for all. Juneteenth will now provide an annual reminder for us to reflect on the work that lies ahead in fighting for racial justice.
The Maine Law community began the 2020-2021 academic year with a common read, The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander. The book reminds us that emancipation and the end of slavery in the United States was only followed by new forms of racial injustice. Whether in the form of a century of Jim Crow laws, mass incarcerations of Black Americans, or the recent brutal killing of George Floyd and others, systemic racism and its effects continue to this day.
So, while we welcome the opportunity to reflect on Juneteenth, we also acknowledge the need for continuing attention to equity and inclusion at Maine Law. We urge all members of the Maine Law community to take time on Saturday, June 19th,to reflect on systemic inequities that still exist today and prepare for another year of action to help eliminate racism and achieve justice for all.