At the Maine State House — June 7, 2020

Long-time Bangor Civil Rights leader James Varner, 86, delivers an emotional message to an anti-racism protest in Augusta on Sunday. Varner attended the famous 1963 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. Varner also attended King’s funeral in 1968 after he was gunned down in Memphis. James Varner —
At the Maine State House, protesters demand equality and end to police violence

By Lauren Abbate, BDN Staff • June 7, 2020

… Augusta Mayor Dave Rollins was unable to finish reading a proclamation passed by the city council, outlining the city’s efforts to bolster equality. After several people in the crowd yelled “hand off the mic” a chant of “Black Lives Matter” ultimately caused Rollins to step back from the crowd and hand off the microphone to the Rev. James Varner, 86, a longtime civil rights activist from Bangor.

Varner, who co-founded the Bangor chapter of the NAACP and later was president of the Maine Human Rights Coalition, emotionally recounted the last moments of Floyd’s life as he called out for his mother while telling the police officer kneeling on his neck that he couldn’t breathe.

“I want you to think about Dr. Martin Luther King,” Varner told the crowd. “I want you to think about his dream that he had for this country, where little white boys and black boys, and people of all races could sit down at the table of justice.”

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