To preserve the history and culture of the African-American community in the Portsmouth, New Hampshire region and to promote awareness and appreciation of that community through education and public programs. We offer public symposia, workshops, educational programs, and cultural events. We are funded entirely from private donations and foundation grants.
When the Trail was established more than 17 years ago, our mission was simply to tell the stories of Africans and their descendants who have been a part of this region’s history since the earliest European settlements. Since then, we have placed 24 distinctive bronze plaques at historic sites in the city, offered a variety of educational programs to thousands of adults and school children through designated walking and bus tours; engaging teachers in workshops and curriculum development; providing guest lecturers to schools, colleges, regional historical societies and national conferences; by creating topical public forums and symposia; and by presenting concerts and plays performed by local talent — all focused on raising public appreciation for the Black history deeply imbedded in this distinguished New Hampshire community.
Our recent merger with the Portsmouth Historical Society that formalized a partnership began several years ago and ensures that we will continue to tell Portsmouth’s stories. We have launched several new programs including The Talking Black Sunday Tea Time Lecture Series and our Film and Discussion Series which will further explore Black history and culture in our state. We will also expand the Black Heritage Trail Marker Program to include sites in the north and west end of the town.
The accomplishments of this all-volunteer organization have served as a model across the country and especially in New England, demonstrating that it is possible for a small number of dedicated individuals to celebrate and preserve the stories of African Americans who have made a difference wherever they are. Black culture informed and transformed American Popular culture. The black presence made other Americans describe themselves as white. The black civil rights movement remains a model for other marginalized Americans and an inspiration to the world. In brief, black history is American history—black history is everyone’s history.