At Pine Tree Legal Assistance, we acknowledge the role legal aid organizations play in shaping systems and policies that impact marginalized populations. In June, we join others around the nation in celebrating Pride Month and Juneteenth. These two observances remind us that despite the progress that has been made, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals continue to face a litany of barriers in the US and here in Maine.
One root cause of systemic inequity is unequal allocation of power and resources among BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals. Pine Tree Legal Assistance’s mission is focused on addressing the unequal allocation of power and resources for Mainers with low income and this work lives at the intersection of race-based, gender-based, income-based discrimination, as well as other bases of discrimination.
In keeping with this, Pine Tree would like to take a moment to reflect on the meanings of Pride and Juneteenth and draw attention to the barriers facing LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC individuals, both historically and presently.
Do you know why June is Pride Month?
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual/Agendered Pride Month is celebrated in the month of June to recognize the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan.
This uprising marked a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States and is largely credited as a watershed moment for gay liberation. On June 28, 1969, frequenters of New York City’s Stonewall Inn, fought back against police raids of the bar which had been ongoing. As former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner put it, “The Stonewall rebellion began as an uprising against police violence. The origins of Pride remind us that no one is free until everyone is free.” Learn more about the Stonewall Riots.
In the decades that have followed Stonewall, LGBTQIA+ people have organized and continued the fight for civil rights on many fronts; and the fight is far from over.
What is Juneteenth all about?
Although General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate troops to the Union's Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, much of the United States at the time was incredibly remote, leading to the word of slavery’s abolition spreading much slower than one would anticipate today. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger finally arrived in Galveston, Texas, and issued an order that would finally free the slaves there.
It was their celebration that marked the basis of Juneteenth, which today celebrates the moment when emancipation in the US finally reached individuals in even the most remote parts of the former Confederacy. Learn more about Juneteenth.