After years of being one of the few remaining states that do not recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday, Governor Chris Sununu signed SB174 into law, proclaiming an annual observance of Juneteenth. Throughout the U.S., 45 states and the District of Columbia recognize June 19 as a holiday.
“For enslaved people in America, the Fourth of July was not the day they became free. Nor was Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. News of emancipation did not reach slaves in Galveston, Texas, for two and a half years. Juneteenth recognizes the day the enslaved in America were finally no longer held in bondage and all Americans were considered free,” said NH Senator Melanie Levesque (Dist.12), who was instrumental in passing the bill. “As the first African American state senator, I am proud of the bipartisan House vote to guarantee New Hampshire observes this historic day each year and am thrilled about Governor Sununu signing this important legislation.”
The Black Heritage Trail of NH holds an annual community day of education, commemoration and music to recognize Juneteenth on the nearest Saturday to the actual date. This year's celebration in Portsmouth will be on Saturday, June 22.
“This Saturday’s Juneteenth Celebration will be a particularly special one for all of the state of New Hampshire,” said JerriAnne Boggis, executive director of Black Heritage Trail of NH. “We have even more to celebrate as a state now that Juneteenth is officially recognized as a holiday ... I invite the entire community to join in the celebration with learning, song and commemoration.”
This year’s celebration will focus on New England’s “Negro Courts” of the 18th Century.
All events take place at or starting from the Middle Street Baptist Church at 18 Court Street in Portsmouth. There is a suggested donation of $20 for both daytime events and the evening concert. For more information and the full schedule, , visit blackheritagetrailnh.org/2019-juneteenth-celebrating-new-englands-18th-century-negro-courts.