Maine's African American community is a distinguished one. Among Maine's notable African-American's are:
- John Brown Russworm: as a member of the Class of 1826, he was Bowdoin College's first African-American graduate. In New York, Russwurm was a pioneering African-American newspaper publisher. After emigrating to Africa, he became governor of the Maryland colony, which was settled by African-Americans. The colony later joined Liberia.
- Macon B. Allen: the first African-American to gain admission to a state bar, when he passed the Maine exam in 1844.
- James A. Healy: America's first African-American Roman Catholic Bishop, ordained for the Diocese of Portland in 1875.
- Beverly Dodge Bowens: a high school student who, with the backing of Maine's governor and senior senator, helped integrate a hotel in Washington, D.C., in 1952.
- David Driskell: one of America's foremost artists and educators maintains a home in Falmouth.
Although Maine's black history is fragmented and not well documented, recent efforts are striving to correct that. Top resources are the University of Southern Maine's African American Collection of Maine and Maine's Visible Black History: The First Chronicle of Its People, by H. H. Price and Gerald E. Talbot.
One of the key African-American sights in Maine is the Portland Freedom Trail, which comprises 16 marked sites and highlights individuals associated with the Underground Railway and anti-slavery movement. Among these are the 1827 Abyssinian Church, the third-oldest African-American church still standing in the country and now undergoing restoration, and Mariners' Church, where the first Afro-centric history of the world, Light and Truth, written by Robert Benjamin Lewis, was printed.
Another is First Paris Church, in Brunswick, where Harriet Beecher Stowe was inspired by a sermon to begin writing Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1850.
A sad chapter in Maine's African-American history is the story of Malaga Island, a mixed-race community off Phippsburg, where all 45 residents were evicted by the state in 1912.
On a more contemporary note, Lewiston, site of the still controversial 1965 World Heavyweight Championship bout between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston, is now, along with neighboring Auburn, home to a growing population of refugees from war-torn Somalia. Like the free blacks who arrived after slavery was abolished here in 1781, they came seeking freedom and a better life, and in the process are broadening Maine's cultural heritage.