“Traces of the Trade in New Hampshire” is the theme of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail annual spring symposium.
Based on “Traces of the Trade: A Story of the Deep North,” the documentary which has appeared on PBS across the country, explores New England connections to the Atlantic slave trade.
The special screening for this symposium will be followed by comments from James DeWolfe Perry, the film’s executive producer. In this award-winning documentary, Katrina Browne and nine relatives, including James DeWolfe Perry, retrace a Triangle Trade route from West Africa and Cuba to New England, uncovering how deeply involved their Rhode Island family and the North were in slavery. Panelists will lead a discussion of topics raised in the film as they relate to New Hampshire’s connections to the slave trade.
A highlight of the program will be an illustrated presentation of recent archeological findings at Portsmouth’s colonial-era African Burying Ground.
Guest speaker, James DeWolfe Perry, was nominated for an Emmy award for his role as the principal historical consultant for “Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North.” James also appears throughout the film, as a descendant of U.S. Senator James DeWolfe of Bristol, R.I. (1764-1837), the leading slave trader in U.S. history.
Since the film’s premiere at Sundance, James has spoken across the nation and abroad about his family’s and this country’s historic role in slavery, and has facilitated discussions about slavery and race at high schools, universities, and corporate, religious and community groups.
James attended law school at Columbia University and has done graduate work at Harvard University, researching international institutions and the evolution of international norms, including the transatlantic slave trade and its abolition. His private-sector experience includes legal and financial analysis and consulting on information management and organizational development.
James DeWolfe-Perry will be joined by Reverend Lauren Smith of Portsmouth's South Church, and University of New Hampshire Professors Jeffrey Bolster and David Watters in a panel discussion of questions raised in the film about the Atlantic slave trade as a cornerstone of Northern commercial life, how it drove the economy of many port cities including those of the Seacoast region, and the relevance of this history today.
Dr. Kathleen Wheeler of Independent Archeological Consultants will complete the program by describing her team’s discoveries at the African Burying Ground on Chestnut Street after it was accidentally exposed during a public works project in 2003.
This event will be facilitated by JerriAnne Boggis, director of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail. Co-sponsors are the Center for New England Culture, Portsmouth Historical Society, Seacoast African American Cultural Center, Port Inn and The Kitchen.
Pre-registration of $15 includes lunch