On Saturday, June 18 from 11- 3 pm, the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail will present a series of free events open to the public for its annual Junteenth Celebration.
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 19 1865, two years later, that the enslaved people in Galveston, Texas got the news that the war had ended and they were free.
Portsmouth’s Junteenth Celebration “Coming to the Table: A Journey of Discovery Between Descendants of Slaves and Slave Owners,” 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.
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 ways in which we can heal the racial divide through dialogue.
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.
Schedule of Events
11 am – Remembrance Gathering at Langdon Slaves Cemetery, 1035 Lafayette Road
12 am — Pot Luck Lunch at South Church, 292 State Street
12:30 pm — Documentary, “Telling the Story of Slavery”, with film Producer Kalim Armstrong, South Church
1:00 pm — Dialogue with Descendants of Colonial Portsmouth Families, South Church
3:00 pm — Music Jamboree and Remembrance Celebration, African Burying Ground Memorial Park
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 at http://www.newyorker.com/contributors/kalim-armstrong/all.
All Junteenth events are free and open to the public.
The Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail founded in 1995, works to preserve, celebrate and honor the history and culture of the African-American community in Portsmouth and the New Hampshire region. With distinctive bronze plaques that identify the community from its colonial-era African Burying Ground to the modern Civil Rights Movement, the Trail is proud to have served as a model across the country, on what it means to raise public awareness and appreciation for a region not known for its Black history.
The Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail merged with the Portsmouth Historical Society in the summer of 2012 and now partners with the Society to present our programs to the public.