PORTSMOUTH – The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire is hosting a daylong celebration of African American topics and culture for its annual celebration of Juneteenth.
The 2018 Juneteenth celebration will be on Saturday, June 16, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 pm, with a concert from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Middle Street Baptist Church, 18 Court St., in Portsmouth. The celebration will include a community dialogue, a catered soul food lunch, a Black History Tour, African Drumming and Dance and culminate in an evening of music. There is a suggested donation of $20 for both the day and evening portions, and the walking tour ($20 per person) requires online pre-registration.
Juneteenth is the oldest and most popular celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States, and for the BHTNH, it is an annual event, focusing on a different, timely theme each year.
This year’s theme, "Law and Order: An American Dilemma" was inspired by recent occurrences of racial discrimination throughout the country. The community dialogue will focus on the systemic issues that disadvantage and marginalize communities of color both now and throughout the history of our nation.
JerriAnne Boggis, executive director of the BHTNH, said, “We chose this theme because of the timeliness and importance to not just the Black community, but to our nation as a whole. Through looking back at history. we can bring to the forefront relevant topics and have a more inclusive and authentic conversation about law and order as it pertains to all of us.”
The list of presenters includes Bill Celester, who won praise as a district police commander in Roxbury and as Police Superintendent in Newark, N.J., but also spent two years in federal prison. Pati Hernández a mother, activist, dancer, puppeteer and Dartmouth College adjunct professor, who focuses on the exploration of political and social problems through the arts, and Devon Chaffee, the executive director of the ACLU of New Hampshire are also presenters.
The Governor’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion recently submitted its first report to Gov. Chris Sununu. One of the council's two recommendations is to establish a statewide recognition of Juneteenth. New Hampshire is one of only five states in the country that does not recognize the holiday.
The day will also be celebrated with film, history, dance and song. A special Black History walking tour centered around the story of Ona Marie Judge, an enslaved woman who came to Portsmouth and was pursued by her “owners," the Washingtons, will take place in the afternoon. This will be followed by a drumming and dance performance at the African Burying Ground by the Akwaaba Ensemble. The evening will end with a musical performance, a retrospective of African American music relating to the theme of the celebration.
For more information on the Juneteenth celebration, please visit www.blackheritagetrailnh.org.
Juneteenth Celebration schedule of events
10:30 a.m. Community Dialogue, "Law & Order in Black & White," facilitated by Devon Chaffee
Video: "The Scholar & The Sailor" (8 minutes) A convicted felon and an academic come to change each other’s lives through a passion for sailing and the written word.
Speakers: Jeff Bolster and William (Billy) Celester
Noon Soul Food Lunch
12:30 p.m. Community Dialogue, "Law & Inequality: Race, Class & Gender," facilitated by Allyson Ryder
Opening trailer for "It Is Criminal" explores the economic and social inequities that divide the United States and offers a vision of how separated communities can learn to speak to each other.
Speakers: Pati Hernandez and Courtney Marshall
2 p.m. Black History Tour, "Lives Bound Together: The Washingtons & Ona Marie Judge in N.H." with Tour Guide and Sankofa Scholar Tammi Truax
(This tour is part of the regular Sankofa Walking Tour schedule. Register in advance online.)
3 p.m. African Drumming and Dance Celebration, "Freedom in the Drums," featuring the Akwaaba Ensemble led by Theo Marty, at the African Burying Ground Memorial Park
7 p.m. Evening Concert, "Trouble Don’t Last Always," suggested donation of $20. A historic retrospective of Black American song reflecting and deflecting the oppressive power of prison life from Old to New Jim Crow, featuring TJ Wheeler, Rev. Robert Thompson and Gina Alibrio.