2016 Juneteenth Celebration: Coming to the Table


Saturday, June 18, 11am-3pm

Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail presents
Portsmouth’s Juneteenth Celebration, Coming to the Table: A Journey of Discovery Between Descendants of Slaves and Slave Owners.

The celebration will feature a dialogue between Langdon Marsh, a descendant of slave owner John Langdon; and Sheila Reed Findley who is a Portsmouth native and descendant of slaves from Portsmouth and Berwick, Maine.

Coming to the Table will also include a visit to the Langdon slaves burying ground with Valerie Cunningham, a pot luck lunch at South Church, a documentary film by Portsmouth son Kalim Armstrong, and a remembrance celebration with special music at the African Burying Ground Memorial.

Armstrong’s film, Telling the Story of Slavery, is about a place that attempts to tackle the legacy of slavery: The Whitney Plantation in Louisiana. His film is featured in the New Yorker. He will be on hand to answer questions.

The observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day is the oldest known nationally celebrated event commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.

Although President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, in the fall of 1862, declared that as of January 1, 1863, all slaves in states in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever be free,” it was not until June 19th, 1865, two years later, that the enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, got the news that the war had ended and they were free.

Through honest and open sharing of personal stories and family histories presenters will explore the legacy of racism that is rooted in the history of slavery and how we can heal the racial divide through dialogue.

Web Pic 2016 Junteenth Event Coming to the TableSchedule of Events

11:00am – Remembrance Gathering at Langdon Slaves Cemetery, 1035 Lafayette Road

Noon — Pot Luck Lunch at South Church, 292 State Street

12:30pm – Documentary, “Telling the Story of Slavery”, with film Producer Kalim Armstrong, South Church

1:00pm – Dialogue with Descendants of Colonial Portsmouth Families, South Church

3:00pm – Music Jamboree and Remembrance Celebration, African Burying Ground Memorial Park

All Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail Juneteenth events are free and open to the public.


Sheila L Reed FindlaySheila L. Reed Findlay is native to Portsmouth, descending from her paternal great grandfather Samuel Arthur Reed who came to Portsmouth, as a young boy, out of slavery in 1865. On Sheila’s father’s maternal side, she was able to trace her roots to Uriah Williams of South Berwick, Maine who fought in the Revolutionary War. As a result of this research, Sheila is a Daughter of the American Revolution, and a member of the Ranger Chapter DAR in Portsmouth.
Through DNA Sheila has traced her Reed roots further back than she thought able and currently is working to identify her paternal great great grandmother, [mother to Samuel], also a slave and her great great grandfather who owned both her and her son Samuel.
In 2010 Sheila was featured in People Magazine’s commemoration of 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation, which looked at relations between white and black people who shared slave and family history.

John Langdon MarshJohn Langdon Marsh has a long history of public service which includes being the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Director for Oregon State Department of Environmental, Sustainability Coordinator for the Office of the Governor of Oregon and a Fellow at the National Policy Consensus Center at Portland State University in Oregon, which advocates for collaborative and consensus-based state governments.
He is a descendant, of three signers of the Constitution: Rufus King of Massachusetts, John Langdon of New Hampshire and William Paterson of New Jersey.

Kalim ArmstrongKalim Armstrong is a filmmaker based between Brooklyn, NY and the Catskill mountains. Kalim’s passion for storytelling stems from an idea that a better understanding of the lives of others can contribute in some small way to making the world a better place. His work has taken him to the mountains of Norway to document soldiers training for winter warfare survival, to the remote Pacific Ocean exploring the need for ocean conservation, across Europe filming rock and roll tour documentaries, interviewing celebrities behind the scenes, capturing elite athletes in training, as well as creating quiet portraits of communities living on the fringe of society.

For more information, call Discover Portsmouth, 603-436-8433.