Public outrage ensued after residents of Millinocket, Maine, noticed an allegedly racist sign in the local Harry E. Reed Insurance Agency’s window Monday.
The agency posted a sign on the front window that read: “Juneteenth ~ it’s whatever… We’re closed. Enjoy your fried chicken & collard greens,” NPR reported.
Local resident Alura Stillwagon first shared the image on Facebook with the caption, “The racism in Millinocket is real,” according to NPR. Stillwagon learned of the sign from her mother Lisa Groelly.
A racist sign about Juneteenth, displayed on the front of an insurance agency in Millinocket, Maine, has provoked outrage and disappointment on social media.https://t.co/E2mbkERP78
— NPR (@NPR) June 22, 2022
“I’m hoping that people will wake up and realize that this is not OK. People need to know their history. They need to realize that there was a lot of suffering and that this holiday is warranted — and it’s needed,” Groelly told NPR in an interview. (RELATED: JACKSON: Celebrate Juneteenth For What It Really Is)
Residents and online viewers quickly jumped to condemn the sign on social media, the outlet noted.
Steve Golieb, chair of the Millinocket Town Council, released a statement Tuesday denouncing the sign.
“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,” Golieb said in his statement. “There is no place in the Town of Millinocket for such a blatant disregard of human decency.”
Democratic Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a proclamation on June 1, 2022 recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday. President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act in 2021, making Juneteenth a federal holiday.