"Overlooked Stories and Histories: African Americans in Maine"
Maine is consistently described as the whitest state in the Union despite its increasingly diverse population. Even so, the state’s population diversity is not new. Multiple waves of migrants from distant shores have added to the long-standing Indigenous populations who lived, worked, celebrated, and worshipped on this land for thousands of years. Among those who came in more recent centuries with a variety of languages, ethnic sagas, religious, and cultural practices were people of African descent—enslaved and free—who contributed to amplifying the region’s economy, politics, social, and cultural life. Yet, Black people (and other people of color) have been invisible to many as the narrative of Maine as a racially unvarying place persists. Now, however, the narrative is changing. The story of the state’s diversity is enlarging as more recent migrants, from across the country and abroad, establish new lives here. What stories have been overlooked in accounts of the state’s historical diversity? How can learning those stories help us fashion the present and future?
This Great Falls Forum panel will share stories to advance our knowledge of African Americans in Maine. Along with building a more honest and inclusive narrative of the community’s racial-ethnic heritage, panelists offer creative ways to preserve and celebrate told and untold stories of work, community-building, and the region's multifaceted heritage.