Maine Insurance Agency Receives Backlash After Posting Racist Juneteenth Sign

·2 min read
Screenshot:  Facebook
Screenshot: Facebook

The sky is blue, water is wet and people in Maine are racist. The residents of Millinocket, Maine, said they were upset over a disparaging Juneteenth sign posted by Harry E. Reed Insurance Agency on Monday which read:

“Juneteenth ~it’s whatever... We’re closed. Enjoy your fried chicken & collard greens.”

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Why be quiet when you can just be racist? And if you’re so upset about Juneteenth, then why not just keep your business open instead of closing for it?Alura Stillwagon, who resides in Millinocket, posted the image on Facebook with a caption that said: “The racism in Millinocket is real.”

She shared her shock with NPR. “I had to read it more than once because I thought it was something [my mom] saw on Facebook. But when she said it was a business [in town], I was immediately disgusted,” Stillwagon said. “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.”

After intense online backlash, which included low reviews on Google and Yelp, a spokesperson for Progressive named Jeff Sibel wrote:

“At Progressive, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are fundamental to our Core Values. We’re committed to creating an environment where our people feel welcomed, valued and respected and expect that anyone representing Progressive to take part in this commitment. The sign is in direct violation of that commitment and doesn’t align with our company’s Core Values and Code of Conduct.”

The chair of the Millinocket Town Council, Steve Golieb, released a statement on Tuesday expressing disdain for 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. There is no place in the Town of Millinocket for such a blatant disregard of human decency.”

This is the second year Juneteenth has been celebrated as a federal holiday recognizing the end of slavery in the United States.