Iconic Legend Dick Gregory Keynote Speaker, 10th Annual Black New England Conference

October 21-22, 2016,
Politically Incorrect: Humor, Satire and Black Consciousness,
10th Annual Black New England Conference

Huddleston Hall Ballroom, University of New Hampshire, Durham

Dick Gregory, Keynote speaker, 10th Annual Black New England Heritage ConferenceBoundary-breaking comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory will deliver the Keynote Address and will receive the PBHT (Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail) Citizen Award on Friday, October 21, 2016, at the 10th Annual Black New England Conference.

2016 Conference Schedule

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Special Tour – Port of Entry: Boys and Girls for Sale


Saturday, September 3, 2016 at 2:00 PM,
co-sponsored by Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail and Historic New England.

Cost: $20 pp/Call 603-380-1231 or 603-436-8433 to Register
EMAIL: nhblackhistory@aol.com

“Negro Boys and Girls just imported from Gambia and to be sold…at the Long Wharf in Portsmouth,”
NH Gazette, July 28, 1758.

This was just one of many notices in the local newspaper placed by slave traders and slave owners advertising black bodies to be purchased for cash or in exchange for other commodities. Healthy young people were highly desirable as lifetime companions for the children of elite families, a significant financial investment in return for what would become decades of personal service and free labor.

Sankofa Tour Guide, Kevin Wade Mitchell, will portray the life of a man who was brought from his home in West Africa to New Hampshire when he was 10 years old. The young boy was renamed “Prince,” the body servant of William Whipple a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The enslaved would later be a signer of a petition seeking emancipation.

This dramatic presentation will follow a guided walking tour of several sites where slave sales and the enslavement of young African people was part of the now-forgotten history of Colonial Portsmouth. JerriAnne Boggis, director of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, will be the Sankofa Tour Guide.

Tour begins at 2:00 PM on Marcy Street at the Liberty Flagpole in Prescott Park and ends at the Moffatt-Ladd House, Market St., Portsmouth
Seating is available in the Warehouse for the appearance of Prince Whipple and discussion with the audience.

Special thanks to Historic New England for co-sponsoring this event

Cost: $20 pp/Call 603-380-1231 or 603-436-8433 to Register
EMAIL: nhblackhistory@aol.com

2016 Sankofa Guided Walking Tours, Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail.

Portsmouth African Burying Ground MemorialAll Sankofa Tours will start at the Liberty Flagpole on Marcy Street, across from Strawbery Banke Museum, unless otherwise noted. 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.

Tours are Saturdays, and most begin at 2pm.

The first tour this season is Saturday, May 14, 2016.

Tickets are $20 (prepaid), available at Discover Portsmouth, 10 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH. Call 603-436-8433. Group size is limited to 25 people.
See the complete 2016
Tour Schedule

Poetry Reveals Unseen Reality of Black Lives in 19th Century

Voices Beyond Bondage 2016

Voices Beyond Bondage: An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th Century.

Co-Authors Erika DeSimone and Fidel Louis will give voice to long-forgotten poets first published in black-owned newspapers

Wed., July 13, 2016, 6-7:30pm, Reading Room, Portsmouth Athenaeum, 9 Market Square, Portsmouth, NH

Free and open to the public.
In collaboration with the New Hampshire Gazette

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — When we think of African American lives in the 19th century, the images that first spring to mind usually involve slaves in chains, toiling on master’s plantation, beatings, and bloodied whips. These images are all too well grounded in ample source materials, penned both by others, and by those who suffered in bondage. Yet the identity of 19th century African Americans was not limited to those who were enslaved. Whether freeborn, self-liberated, or born after the Emancipation, African Americans had a rich cultural heritage all their own, a heritage which has been largely subsumed, in popular history and in collective memory, by the atrocity of slavery.

The early 19th century birthed the nation’s first black-owned periodicals, the first media spaces to provide primary outlets for the empowerment of African American voices. For many, poetry became this empowerment. Almost every black-owned periodical featured an open call for poetry, and African Americans, both free and enslaved, responded by submitting droves of poems for publication. Yet until now, these poems — and an entire literary movement — have been lost to modern readers.

Voices Beyond Bondage: An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th Century
, brings those voices back to life. The first anthology to focus on the poetry of the 19th century’s black-owned press, the book compiles 150 poems culled from thirty-six black owned newspapers into one unique volume, bringing to light an almost completely neglected part of American history.

The poems in Voices Beyond Bondage address the horrific and the mundane, the humorous and the ordinary and the extraordinary. Authors wrote about slavery, but also about love, morality, politics, perseverance, nature, and God. These poems evidence authors who were passionate, dedicated, vocal, and above all resolute in a bravery which was both weapon and shield against a world of prejudice and inequity. These authors wrote to be heard; more than 150 years later it is at last time for us to listen.

Published by NewSouth Books (NewSouthBooks.com/voices) in 2014, Voices Beyond Bondage has been the subject of features on “The Tavis Smiley Radio Program” and NPR’s “Here and Now,” and articles in the New York Times and Washington Post. The authors have spoken at venues including the PEN/Faulkner Center in Washington, D.C. and the Boston Public Library.

On Wednesday, July 13th, the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail and the Portsmouth Athenaeum, in collaboration with the New Hampshire Gazette will bring those voices to Portsmouth. Co-authors Erika DeSimone and Fidel Louis will read a number of poems, including at least one authored by a New England native, followed by an audience-led question and answer period. DeSimone is currently an editorial assistant at the Modern Language Association, where she has worked for more than a decade. Louis has written for several newspapers and was managing editor of the Caribbean News Network.

This event will be held from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the Reading Room, and will be free and open to the public.

For more details on this event call (603) 431-2538.

Learn more or read an excerpt from the book: newsouthbooks.com/voices/

The New Hampshire Gazette owes its existence in part to Primus X, an enslaved African American who was its pressman for thirty years. On his death in 1791 he was the first African American to be the subject of a poem in a New Hampshire newspaper.

New Hampshire’s Black History Highlighted in New Film.

JerriAnne and Valerie

JerriAnne Boggis and Valerie Cunningham

Shadows Fall North

Premieres Thursday, May 26, 7pm, at The Music Hall.

The efforts of two dedicated historic preservationists and activists, Valerie Cunningham of Portsmouth and JerriAnne Boggis of Milford, to make New Hampshire’s Black history visible is the focus of Shadows Fall North, a new documentary that premieres at the Music Hall in Portsmouth on Thursday, May 26 at 7 pm.

[Read more…]

Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, Special Guided Tour

Ona Marie Judge walking tour 2016

Saturday, May 28, 2016, 2:00 PM.

Ona Marie Judge, The President’s Runaway Slave

During the Fall of 1796, George Washington’s final months in office, Ona Judge Staines, a dowager slave owned by the First Family, escaped the Executive Mansion in Philadelphia with the aid of that city’s free black community, and made her way to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

Beyond Chi-Raq: Deepening the Conversation on Race

Chi RaqJoin Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail on 
Saturday, April 30, 2016, 10:30am, for a half-day conference at the South Church, 292 State Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with lunch included and concluding with a wreath laying ceremony of gratitude at the African Burying Ground Memorial on Court Street.

UNH Professor Reginald A. Wilburn
will facilitate this community conversation that began to emerge during the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail Winter Tea Talk, Chi-Raq and Black Movements, where we explored the disparate views on gun control, sex and violence between white and black people.

Purchase Tickets Online

What is it you most want to know but are afraid to ask? 

Together, we will explore questions about the beliefs and current cultural issues on race and culture in our region, recognizing that usually there are no single answers and sometimes there are no answers beyond a deep appreciation for the question and the dialogue.

Questions and highlights of the conversation will then be available to the public on the PBHT website.  Those who attended the “Chi-Raq” tea talk (Feb. 28, 2016) will remember the closing question of the program:

What can we do to continue this discussion and bring it into the larger community?  What can we do here in the Seacoast to build a more aware and responsive community?

This interactive half-day gathering will serve as a springboard for those who want to commit time and attention to action in the name of justice – especially at this time in the United States when sensitivities are heightened, a populist anti-civility and racist movement cloaked in anti-political correctness is on the rise, and lines are being drawn politically and socially.

Participants will have an opportunity to share ideas for immediate action steps, such as by linking your churches, your social networks, your Facebook families, your neighborhoods, your political action committees to make the Seacoast – and ultimately the United States – a more just and safe community for all who live here.

Schedule of the Day

10:30 a.m.       Gathering, Registration, and Coffee
11:00 a.m.       Welcome & Introduction: JerriAnne Boggis
11:05 a.m.       Opening Remarks:  Beyond “Chi-Raq” with Dr. Reginald A. Wilburn
11:15 a.m.       World Café – What’s on your mind?
11:30 a.m.       Facilitated conversation: The Heart of the Matter
12:30 p.m.       LUNCH & Round Table – facilitated discussion
1:30 p.m.         Facilitated report: Where do we go from here?
2:15 p.m.         Procession to ABG to lay a wreath of gratitude
2:30 p.m.         Close

Dr. Reginald A. Wilburn is an associate professor of English at the University of New Hampshire, where he teaches African American literature and drama, women’s literary traditions, and intertextuality studies.  He has presented his work on Milton and African American literature and culture at the Modern Language Association; The International Milton Symposium in Tokyo, Japan; the African American Studies Spring Symposium at the University of Texas, San Antonio; and the Northeast Milton Seminar.  Wilburn’s award winning work, Preaching the Gospel of Black Revolt: Appropriating Milton in Early African American Literature published by Duquesne University Press in March, 2014, continues to garner national and international attention.

Prepaid Registration for the event is $25 (includes lunch). Visit or call Discover Portsmouth, 10 Middle Street, Portsmouth NH, phone 603-436-8433 to register, or contact Jerrianne Boggis at 603-318-5120 for more information.

Tea Talk: Black Heritage Tourism and Community

Sunday, February 21, 2016, 2 to 4 pm

Black Heritage Tourism and Community
Presenter: Dr. Stephanie E. Freeman

African Burying Ground, Portsmouth NHUntil recent time, African-American history and culture was considered a blight on what many believed was the pristine record of America’s growth and prosperity. However, no doubt fueled by to the presence of an African American family in the White House, there is a growing desire to learn more of the Black stories that had all but disappeared from our collective consciousness. The historic and cultural resources associated with people, events, or aspects of a community’s past give that community its sense of identity and help tell its story. These resources are the most tangible reflections of a community’s heritage.
This presentation will look at how the recognition of an area’s historic resources, such as the African Burying Ground in Portsmouth, can bring about neighborhood revitalization, increased and sustainable tourism, economic development and citizenship building.

This event is free and open to the public.

This tea talk is part of the Elinor Williams Hooker Winter Tea Talks: A series of participatory lectures related to New Hampshire’s Black history and African American culture.

These Sunday afternoon “Tea Talks” are participatory lectures related to New Hampshire’s Black history and African American culture, presented by the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail in collaboration with the Seacoast African American Cultural Center, from February 7 through March 13, 2016, at Discover Portsmouth, 10 Middle St., Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Please call 603-436-8433 or email JerriAnne Boggis for more information.

“Chi-Raq” and Black Movement: A Film Discussion

Tea Talk: February 28, 2016, 2 to 4 pm, Discover Portsmouth

Panelists: Joe Onosko (UNH), Delia Konzett (UNH), Courtney Marshall (UNH) and Alexander Loughran-Lamothe (Black Lives Matter)

Chi RaqChi-Raq, a satirical musical drama by Spike Lee, will serve as the backdrop for a dialogue on current social justice issues and movements in our region. Lee’s film touches on the gang violence prevalent in some neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago. The film is based on Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, a Classical Greek comedy play in which various women withhold physical affection from their husbands as punishment for fighting in war.

“Chi-Raq is as urgently topical and satisfyingly ambitious as it is wildly uneven – and it contains some of Spike Lee’s smartest, sharpest, and all-around entertaining late-period work.” Rotten Tomatoes

“Blunt, didactic and stronger on conceptual audacity than dramatic coherence, this is still the most vital, lived-in work in some time from a filmmaker who has never shied away from speaking his mind or irritating his ideological foes, as he seems destined to do again with this attention-grabbing feature.”

This event is free and open to the public.

This tea talk is part of the Elinor Williams Hooker Winter Tea Talks: A series of participatory lectures related to New Hampshire’s Black history and African American culture.

These Sunday afternoon “Tea Talks” are participatory lectures related to New Hampshire’s Black history and African American culture, presented by the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail in collaboration with the Seacoast African American Cultural Center, from February 7 through March 13, 2016, at Discover Portsmouth, 10 Middle St., Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Please call 603-436-8433 or email JerriAnne Boggis for more information.