Annual Juneteenth celebration puts spotlight on black history month

June 13. 2018 3:29PM

PORTSMOUTH — The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire (BHTNH) on Saturday will host its annual Juneteenth celebration, which commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States.

The program will include a community dialogue, a catered soul food lunch, a black history tour, African drumming and dance and music.

Most events will take place at the Middle Street Baptist Church, 18 Court St., however a 3 p.m. performance by drumming ensemble Akwaaba will be at the African Burying Ground Memorial across the street.

The BHTNH this year will focus on the theme “Law and Order: An American Dilemma” as a response to recent instances of racial discrimination.

“We chose this theme because of the timeliness and importance to not just the black community, but to our nation as a whole,” said JerriAnne Boggis, executive director of the BHTNH. “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 10:30 a.m. community program, “Law and Order in Black and White,” will be facilitated by Devon Chaffee, the executive director of the ACLU of New Hampshire. A short film titled “The Scholar & The Sailor,” about a convicted felon and an academic changing one another’s lives, will be shown.

Speakers will include William Celester, who held high-ranking police offices when sentenced to two years in federal prison; Jeff Bolster, a writer and an associate professor of history at the University of New Hampshire; and Pati Hernandez, a Dartmouth College adjunct professor who uses the arts to focus on political and social problems.

At 12:30 p.m., discussion will continue with “Law & Inequality: Race, Class and Gender,” which will be facilitated by Allyson Ryder. The discussion will include the opening trailer for “It Is Criminal,” which 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.

Hernandez and Courtney Marshall will be speakers.

At 2 p.m., Sankofa scholar Tammi Truax will lead a walking tour of Portsmouth that centers on the diaspora of black American experiences on the Seacoast, focusing on the enslavement and pursuit of one woman, Ona Marie Judge, from Philadelphia to New Hampshire.

A 7 p.m. concert, “Trouble Don’t Last Always,”will be a retrospective of black American song that reflects and deflects the “oppressive power of prison life from Old to New Jim Crow.” TJ Wheeler, the Rev. Robert Thompson and Gina Alibrio will be featured.

There is a suggested donation of $20 for both the day and evening portions of the Juneteenth celebration.

To register for the walk only (also $20), go to
The Akwaaba Ensemble, which specializes in West African drum and dancing, will perform at 3 p.m. Saturday at the African Burying Ground Memorial in Portsmouth. 


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