Newsletter and Subscription Sign Up

Conference Focuses on Healing Racial Wounds

Published Friday Sep 24, 2021

Conference Focuses on Healing Racial Wounds

Spirituality, accountability, truth-telling, and their role in healing racial wounds is the focus of the two-day 15th Annual Black New England Conference, entitled Crossing River Jordan: Healing Racial Wounds Through Accountability & Truth-Telling. Scheduled for Friday and Saturday, October 22 & 23, 2021, 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.

“We select our program a year in advance. Last year racial tensions were extremely high and we thought we could focus on healing the wounds that were opened by this tension. However, we realized without accountability there would be no healing," says JerriAnne Boggis, executive director of the Trail. "Healing racial wounds is a process we can all participate in, from the individual level to our work in our communities. And that’s what we want to explore.”

From the moment they were captured, brought to this country and enslaved to the present time when racism and oppression are prevalent in daily lives, African Americans have experienced trauma, or what has been referred to as soul wound.  While psychology and several psychotherapeutic modalities can address physical and emotional trauma, spirituality and religion play a significant role in healing.

In this conference, representing various religious and spiritual traditions will examine the ways spiritual and religious practices serve as sources of strength, hope, resilience, and healing for Black people in their centuries-long struggle for justice.  They will explore paths forward from the legacies of racism to collective accountability and collective healing as they consider the ongoing impacts of enslavement, disenfranchisement, and many more harms perpetrated against people of African descent. Past and present–day efforts to gain reparations and the healing inherent in proper memorialization of accurate history will also be discussed.

The conference will be punctuated by several special features, beginning on October 22, 9:00 AM, with an Opening Ceremony, The Call of the Drums.  This traditional African healing ceremony, with drumming and chants, will pay respect to an African cosmology, the ancestors and offer healing to the community.  Chief Wande Abimbola, who also presided over the 2021 Juneteenth healing celebration will lead the ceremony along with Dr. Robert Bellinger.

Two virtual tours are offered.  The first tour, Never CaughtThe Washingtons and Ona Marie Judge Stains will relate the story of Ona’s quest for freedom and President Washington’s relentless efforts to have her returned to him.  The second tour, Meet Jack Staines, a “Black Jack” in Historic Old Portsmouth, will provide a history of old Portsmouth through the stories of Jack Staines, husband to Ona Marie Judge.

An Awards Dinner, to be held in person at St Anselm’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester, NH, 6:00 to 9:00 PM, Friday, October 22, will feature a special keynote speaker and honor Brenda Bailey Lett as the Black Heritage Trail Citizen of the Year.

The 2021 Black New England Conference is held in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University.  Sponsors and Community Ambassadors include the following: 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 about the conference schedule, presenters, or cost and to register, go to, or call 603-570-8469.

All Stories