Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bangor Daily News on Malaga Island

The strange tale of Maine's "hidden public apology" for the infamous Malaga Island evictions in 1912 -- which I broke in the current issue of Down East -- is the topic of this morning's editorial in the Bangor Daily News.

The daily provides a thumbnail sketch of the events and the legislature's decidedly unpublicized apology, before concluding:

"Fortunately, the Legislature and Gov. John Baldacci have opportunities to rectify this. They, along with descendants, will be invited to an Aug. 1 ceremony on the island. That event, along with next year’s centennial of the Malaga deportations, would be perfect times to amplify the apology, making it much more meaningful."

One correction: the News writes that "by the early 1900s, many Malaga residents were mentally and physically disabled." As radio documentarian Rob Rosenthal and others have revealed, this was not, in fact, true. Eight people -- a fifth of the island's population -- were incarcerated at the Maine School for the Feebleminded, but for most of them on what essentially amounted to trumped up charges.

I've been trying to learn more details about the August 1 event and will pass on what I discover.

[Update, 7/28/2010: Rachel Talbot Ross of the NAACP tells me the Malaga commemoration event is on, but has been pushed back to August 28.]

[Update, 9/14/2010: The event happened, complete with governor.]


  1. It's strange that the editorial does not state who is organizing the event.

  2. If the event is coming together -- it was still a bit up in the air when I filed the story last month -- it would be being organized by Maine Freedom Trails, Inc.

    Thus far no solid information from either Maine Trails or the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, which owns the island.

  3. When I read the Editorial I found it be eerily similar to your piece in Downeast. I dare say it is (borderline) plagiarism. But shining a brigher light on this strange event is hopefully consolation enough for you.
    And thanks for the correction regarding the number of so-called "feebleminded" on the island. I would hope the BDN will print a correction.

  4. I find it amazing that this editorial was printed and could be construed as fact, when the author printed such an unconfirmed statement as this "Intermarriage was common among the island’s black, white and mixed-race residents, and by the early 1900s, many Malaga residents were mentally and physically disabled." I know a correction was noted, but isn't this the largest issue in this story. People where mistreated because they where poor and could not defend themselves.

  5. @Anonymous of 31 July: That sentence is unfortunate in several ways, and definitely shouldn't have made it into their editorial.