Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail Tours

Sankofa Guided Summer Walking Tours

Unless otherwise noted, all Sankofa Tours will start at the Liberty Flagpole on Marcy Street, across from Strawbery Banke Museum. Each tour ends at the site of the colonial-era African Burying Ground, now identified by the city’s Memorial Park as a place to pause and contemplate this unfinished American story.

Tickets are $20 (prepaid), available at Discover Portsmouth, 10 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH. Call 603-436-8433. Group size is limited to 25 people.

2016 Summer Schedule

2:00 PM Saturdays: May 7, June 4, July 2, July 23, August 6

“Let Freedom Ring: Resistance, Abolition and Civil Rights”

Sankofa Tour Guide: Nur Shoop
Colonial Portsmouth newspapers testify to local the slave trade, runaways, abolitionists and anti-abolitionist activities, followed by conflicting opinions of the Civil War. In the 20th century, the legacy of that early history was reflected in news about de facto segregation in housing and public places. This tour includes many of those historic landmarks.


2:00 PM Saturday, July 30

Portsmouth Remembers: Who Owned the Slaves?

Sankofa Tour Guides: Valerie Cunningham and Kevin Mitchell
Map of PortsmouthA recurring question to our guides asks: Why would there be a colonial-era African Burying Ground in this small New England town? This mid-summer presentation of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail by Valerie Cunningham, and Sankofa Tour Guide Kevin Mitchell, will provide an illustrated survey of local slaveholding families that will reveal some surprising facts about our long forgotten history.
Meet at the Discover Portsmouth Center for the talk, then a walk to the African Burying Ground Memorial Park.


2:00 PM Saturdays: May 14, June 18, July 9, August 13

“Creating Community: White Enterprise and Black Society”

Sankofa Tour Guide: Angela Matthews
Institutionalized slavery in the Americas provided immense wealth and material culture to many European immigrants and their descendents in the Americas, as Portsmouth’s house museums bear witness. This tour brings into focus an economic system dependent upon the unpaid labor of enslaved African captives and their descendents who, in spite of the odds, created one of this country’s oldest Black communities.


2:00 PM Saturdays, May 21, July 16, August 20

“Out of the Shadows: Enslavement and Emancipation”

Sankofa Tour Guide: Kevin Mitchell
Daily life for enslaved children and adults in New England was variable according to the occupations of their owners and the changing seasons of the year. Captives became taxable property with few human rights, yet each individual was endowed with a particular range of abilities and talents, with different experiences and opportunities shaping their lives before, during and after enslavement. This tour will reveal some of these personalities.


2:00 PM Saturday, May 28, 2PM

Ona Marie Judge, The President’s Runaway Slave

Special Guided Tour, Presenting actress Gwendolyn Quezaire-Presutti as Ona.
More info Here…


Saturday, June 11

“Market Square Day”

The guided tour will be replaced by Sankofa Guides greeting visitors at the African Burying Ground Memorial on Chestnut Street, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM.


Sankofa Tours can be scheduled for other dates by contacting nhblackhistory@aol.com


June 18 – Special event for “Juneteenth Celebration”

11:00am We invite people to meet at Langdon Slave Cemetery for a tour before going on to South Church for a
12:00 noon Pot Luck Lunch at South Church
1:00 PM “Coming to the Table: featuring Sheila Reed Findlay and Lang Marsh who will share their personal stories of discovery as descendents of slaves and slaveowners, Others at the Table will describe their own experiences upon finding inter-racial leaves on the family tree. South Church, 273 Court St.
3:00 PM Juneteenth Jamboree at African Burying Ground Memorial, Chestnut Street.


Saturday Sept 3

Special Labor Day Tour: “Port of Entry: Boys and Girls for Sale”

Sankofa Tour Guide:
Local newspapers carried merchants’ ads for ships returning to the port of Portsmouth laden with cargo from trade ports on the West Coast of Africa, the West Indies and the middle Atlantic coastal cities of Colonial America. Visit local wharves and auction sites related to the Atlantic Slave Trade, where a captive could be exchanged for “cash or good lumber” to serve in the master’s house or work on the docks or on a ship. See how slavery in the North compared to the South.


Sankofa Scholars are the volunteer tour guides for all Sankofa Tours, an educational program created by the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail.
Sankofa Tour, Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Self-Guided Walking Tours

The Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail Guidebook, with site descriptions and map, is available for sale in the Discover Portsmouth Museum Shop, open daily 9:30 AM-5PM.

Click here for a self-guided online walking tour.

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