Opportunities for education and celebration of Juneteenth

The Juneteenth Celebration rganized by the Black Heritage Trail of NH includes a tour, a panel discussion, a Reggae festival, a gospel choir concert, African drumming, and more.
The Juneteenth Celebration rganized by the Black Heritage Trail of NH includes a tour, a panel discussion, a Reggae festival, a gospel choir concert, African drumming, and more.

The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire  is pleased to announce its extraordinary program of events for its 2023 Juneteenth Celebration, “Reading the Bones: Celebrating the African Diaspora.” Events run from June 10 to June 19,  and feature a diverse range of cultural and educational activities.

“We are excited to announce the lineup for our 2023 Juneteenth Celebration,” said JerriAnne Boggis, Executive Director of BHTNH. “This year’s celebration will showcase the diversity and resilience of the African Diaspora, and will provide opportunities for learning, healing, and community building.” From hosting its first ever BHTNH Reggae Festival to historic walking tours in Canterbury Shaker Village to an art reception, panel discussion and multiple musical performances, BHTNH is creating a vibrant, educational and inspiring program.

“Bringing people together to educate, honor and respect one another is always our mission” shares Boggis. “Our Juneteenth 2023 Celebration seeks to share our cultures, recognize the past, and hopefully inspire one another to work together and move forward as a community.” Boggis believes music is a great catalyst for community-building, and she is excited with the all-new BHTNH Reggae Festival on June 17th. Featuring legendary performers as well as those on-the-rise, the Reggae Festival is a ticketed event with family-friendly music and performances for all ages throughout the day and evening. “From our first ever Reggae Festival to the Akwaaba Ensemble drumming Performance at the African Burying Ground, to Camille A. Brown and Dancers at The Music Hall, and the Howard Gospel Choir at South Church, we will be dancing, singing and sharing love and respect for one another” says Boggis. “Our communities need this now more than ever.” All are welcome. For details on the program including free and ticketed events, please visit blackheritagetrailnh.org/juneteenth-celebration-2023/.

Reading the Bones: Celebrating the African Diaspora

June 10, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19

Reading the bones is both an ancient and modern form of divination found in all civilizations. Divination is among the earliest human spiritual practices concerned with choosing actions that were in accord with the “will of heaven” to allay uncertainty, heal illness, or navigate issues of tribal importance.

Interestingly, the casting and reading of the bones takes on a different connotation when we consider the rediscovery of the 18th-century African burying ground in Portsmouth, NH. This accidental unearthing of African remains on a city street that had been forgotten, paved over, and built upon, forced the city and the state at large to acknowledge their history of enslaving humans and the presence of Africans in the region before enslavement.

BHTNH offers this weeklong Juneteenth celebration to honor these early African settlers and their descendants for their extraordinary contributions to the growth of this region. We honor the African traders who interacted with the Indigenous tribal nations long before European settlers landed on these shores. We honor the Africans who survived the Middle Passage and the successive generations of the African diaspora who continue to contribute to the development, wealth and well-being of New England.

Program of events

For tickets, reservations and more information, please visit blackheritagetrailnh.org/juneteenth-celebration-2023

June 10

The celebration begins with a bus tour to Canterbury Shaker Village featuring tour guide Dr. Shirley Wajda. Entitled “African Roots: Herbal Medicine, Inoculation & the Shaker Connection,” the tour explores the intersection of African and Shaker culture in New Hampshire. Costs for this tour includes transportation, entrance to Canterbury Shaker Village, guided tour, and lunch provided by Beans & Greens.

June 14

On Wednesday, June 14, a panel discussion entitled “Still, Uprooted? Heartache and Hope in New Hampshire,” will be held at the Currier Museum in Manchester. The discussion will highlight the experiences of displaced people coming from war torn countries and their journey to finding home and a sense of belonging in our state.

June 16

The celebration will continue Friday, June 16, with a free opening art reception at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth featuring the work of McKinley Wallace III. The exhibit, “If You Knew, Let it Be Us,” explores the themes of identity, ancestry, and legacy in the African American community.

June 17

On Saturday, June 17, festivities move to Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth for a Reggae Festival entitled “Chanting Down Babylon: Redemption Songs of the Diaspora.” The festival, highlighting the rich cultural heritage of the African diaspora, features live music, dance performances, food vendors and craft vendors, and some of Reggae’s iconic performers including Marcia Griffiths, Brigadier Jerry, Nadine Sutherland, and Glen Washington. Admission to this event is ticketed.

June 18

On Sunday, June 18, BHTNH will partner with the Music Hall in Portsmouth to present Camille A. Brown & Dancers in a performance called “Reclaiming Black Narratives.” The show explores the intersections of Black identity, history, and culture through dance. Admission to this event is ticketed.

June 19

On Monday, June 19, the closing day of the celebration, there will be an African drumming performance featuring Akwaaba Ensemble at the African Burying Ground in Portsmouth. Entitled “The Healing Rhythm of the Drums” the performance will celebrate the power of African music and drumming to promote healing and community building.

The celebration concludes with a performance by the Howard Gospel Choir at South Church entitled “From Africa to America: We Are the Drums.” The performance celebrates the rich history of gospel music and its roots in African American culture. Admission to this event is ticketed.


Tickets for ticketed events are available for purchase on the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire’s website, and all proceeds will go to support the organization’s mission to promote awareness and appreciation of African American history and culture in the state.

For more information about the 2023 Juneteenth Celebration, visit the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire’s website at blackheritagetrailnh.org/juneteenth-celebration-2023

About The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire

The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire promotes awareness and appreciation of African American history and life in order to build more inclusive communities today. BHTNH works to visibly honor and share a truer and more complete history of the state through exhibits, educational programs, curriculum development, guided walking tours and by documenting and making visible many of the sites that testify to the state’s rich Black history.

Author: Insider Staff

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