Black man inducted into Maine Franco-American Hall of Fame

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The late founder of The Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center has become the first Black Mainer to be inducted in the state’s Franco-American Hall of Fame.

Alain Jean Claude Nahimana, who died at age 49 last year, was one of three people to be inducted posthumously during the ceremony Tuesday at the Maine State House.

The son of a Burundi ambassador who fled political turmoil, Nahimana was educated in Burundi and Switzerland before moving to Maine in 2010.

He served as the president of the Burundi Community Association and as coordinator of the Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition before launching the immigrant welcome center.

There were a dozen inductees, including former House Speaker John Martin, of Eagle Lake, and state Sen. Susan Deschambault, of Biddeford.

Dignitaries who attended the event included the French ambassador to the United States, Phillippe Etienne, along with Senate President Troy Jackson and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau.

Gov. Janet Mills, who studied abroad for a year in Paris as a college student, delivered remarks in both French and English. She noted that more than a third of Maine residents have a Franco heritage.

Fecteau presided over the event in the House Chamber.

“My mémère, pépère, and my dad immigrated from Packington, Quebec, in the 1960s to work in Biddeford’s textile mills. Their immigration to Maine is the reason I am here,” he said.