The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire will commemorate Juneteenth, 2021 on June 17, 18, and 19 with the theme Found Lineage: Celebrating African American Roots & Branches.
The current debate around race is coinciding with a technological phenomenon: the extraordinary growth of DNA testing, along with the meaning of these results on concepts of lineage and race. The ease of access to this scientific testing has led people on a journey to delve deeper into their roots and to fill out the branches of their family tree. While the research has brought some remarkable stories of reconciliation to the public, the data collected through our genes has demonstrated the brutality of America’s history. A recent study shows that, while the majority of enslaved people brought to the Americas were male, enslaved women had a disproportionate impact on the gene pool of their descendants. There is much evidence of the systematic rape and sexual exploitation of enslaved Black women.
With a focus on African American genealogy and research, this year’s Juneteenth celebration offers a series of engaging, informative, and entertaining programs that examines the connection between the emerging knowledge of our DNA and the historical events in the Black community. Programs also highlight how science is leading journeys of self-discovery, helping people rewrite their understanding not only of their families but also of their orientation as Americans.
Juneteenth is the oldest known nationally celebrated event commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declared that, as of January 1, 1863, all slaves in states in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” However, it was not until June 19, 1865, two years later, when the U.S. Army took possession of Galveston Island in Texas and began a war against defenders of slavery, that the enslaved people in Galveston could begin their journey toward freedom.
Eastern Bank, ReVision Energy, People’s Bank, the University of New Hampshire, the Music Hall, McClane Middleton, and Centrus Digital are generous sponsors for this year’s celebration.
The schedule of events is as follows:
Thursday, June 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. / Cost $40.00.
In a virtual workshop Finding Our Roots: Researching Black History & Genealogy, divided into four one-hour segments, five experts will offer techniques and resources for researching African American history and genealogy.
Friday, June 18 at 7:30 p.m. / Cost TBA
In a live concert at the Music Hall, Portsmouth, NH, Feeling Good: N’Kenge Celebrates African American Sopranos, N’Kenge will honor Nellie Brown Mitchell, Aretha Franklin, and other famous African American female singers who changed the trajectory of American music.
Saturday, June 19 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
A free virtual panel discussion! In Art of the Story: Exploring How SNA Powers a Changing Narrative, three professionals will explore the role the new science is playing in presenting a more complete story of our country, the power of the story to aid in individual and collective healing, and the dangers inherent in the new science.
Saturday, June 19 at 3:00 p.m.
Free and open to the public, live streamed on Zoom and Facebook from the Portsmouth African Burying Ground, Dance of the Ancestors: Ritual, Chants, Drumming & Movement. Chief Wande Abimbola, a Yoruba Babalowo and the Awise Awo Agbaye (Voice of Ifa in the World), Chief Oscar Mokeme from the Nmuo Society, and members from Akwaaba Ensemble will honor the ancestors through rituals, chants, and African drumming and dance.