15th Annual Black New England Conference: Crossing the Jordan River



PORTSMOUTH – Spirituality, Responsibility, Truth and Their Role in Healing Racial Wounds are at the Center of the 15th Annual Two-Day Black New England Conference, titled “Crossing the Jordan: Healing Racial Wounds through Responsibility and Truth “.

Scheduled for Friday and Saturday 22 and 23 October, the BNEC is presented each fall by the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire. The event combines the scholarship of an academic conference with a sharing and celebration of black life and culture.

JerriAnne Boggis, Executive Director of the Black Heritage Trail in New Hampshire, explains the origin of the decision to highlight issues of spirituality and accountability at this year’s conference. “We select our program one year in advance. Last year, racial tensions were extremely high and we thought we could focus on healing the wounds opened by this tension. However, we realized that without accountability there would be no healing. Healing racial wounds is a process in which we can all participate, from the individual level to our work in our communities. And that’s what we want to explore.

From the time they were captured, brought to this country, and enslaved to the present day when racism and oppression is rampant in everyday life, African Americans have suffered trauma, or what it is called a soul wound. While psychology and several psychotherapeutic modalities can address physical and emotional trauma, spirituality and religion play an important role in healing.

At this conference, representatives of various religious and spiritual traditions will examine how spiritual and religious practices serve as sources of strength, hope, resilience and healing for black people in their centuries-old struggle for justice. They will explore ways forward to move from the legacy of racism to collective responsibility and collective healing by considering the continuing impacts of slavery, the denial of the right to vote and many other harms perpetrated against people in the world. African descent. Past and current efforts to achieve reparations and the healing inherent in properly memorizing the exact history will also be discussed.

The conference will be punctuated by several special events, starting October 22 at 9 a.m. with an opening ceremony, The Call of the Drums. This traditional African healing ceremony, with drums and songs, will pay homage to an African cosmology, ancestors and offer healing to the community. Chief Wande Abimbola, who also chaired the healing celebration on June 17, 2021, will lead the ceremony with Dr. Robert Bellinger.

Two virtual tours are offered. The first tour, “Never Caught: The Washingtons and Ona Marie Judge Stains” will tell the story of Ona’s quest for freedom and President Washington’s relentless efforts to bring her back. The second tour, “Meet Jack Staines, a ‘Black Jack’ in Historic Old Portsmouth”, will present a history of old Portsmouth through the stories of Jack Staines, husband of Ona Marie Judge.

An awards dinner, to be held in person at St Anselm’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester, NH, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, October 22, will feature a special speaker and honor Brenda Bailey Lett as citizen of the Black Heritage Trail. of the year.

The 2021 Black New England conference is organized in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University. Sponsors and Community Ambassadors are: TD Bank, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, University of New Hampshire, Eversource, Wentworth Douglass Hospital, Northeast Delta Dental, Bangor Savings Bank, South Church, Portsmouth Rotary, New England Blacks in Philanthropy, Centrus Digital, Soul Purpose, Global Circle, Atlantic Media, Great Life Press, BLM Seacoast, NAACP Manchester, Nashua Public Library, Portsmouth Public Library, City Year.

For more information on the conference schedule, presenters or costs and to register, visit www.blackheritagetrailnh.org/events, or call 603-570-8469.


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