New Hampshire

Sankofa Guided Walking Tours
Portsmouth + Statewide
Small group tours/masked/socially distanced

Portsmouth, New Hampshire…The popular walking tours presented by the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire will return this summer – small groups, masked and socially distanced of course – covering topics from how slavery created an economic engine for our country, how enslaved and freemen served onboard ships sailing from Portsmouth, and how Ona Marie Judge escaped enslavement by George and Martha Washington and to freedom in Portsmouth.

About the Sankofa Tours

Sankofa is an African word from the Akan tribe in Ghana that means going back to the past to recover what was lost.

Boston to New Hampshire Black Heritage Trail transportation reservations for groups.

Choices are 14-35 passenger luxury van and mini-coach. Will not fill to capacity to allow for social distancing. Couples are encouraged to rent a car. Travel time equals about 1hr 20 minutes in each direction.

When the group arrives at the destination, the tour admission price is $20 per person; $15 (with ID) for Seniors & Military; $10 Students.

Tours are 90 minutes long.
Please note: Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic group size is limited to 5 people per tour, 10 people per tour if they are all from the same family or household. To safeguard the health of our guides and tour attendees, all participants must wear masks. Our Tour guides will wear face shields and use microphones.

PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE BLACK HERITAGE TOURS PSA from the official Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire.

July 19, Aug 15, Aug 29, Sep 19 & Oct 17 | 2:00 pm
A Quest to Thrive: Economics of Slavery & Portsmouth’s Early Black Community

Sankofa Scholar & Tour Guide: Angela Matthews
Institutionalized slavery in Colonial America provided immense wealth and material culture to many European immigrants and their descendants in the Americas, as Portsmouth’s house museums bear witness. This tour brings into focus an economic system dependent upon the international slave trade with its constant supply of kidnapped unpaid African workers and their descendants, who, against the odds, created one of this country’s oldest Black communities.

July 25, Aug 22, Sep 5, Sep 19, & Oct 24 | 10:00 am
Ain’t She A Woman: Let me tell you her story
Sankofa Tour Guide: Valerie Fagin

Can you imagine the hustle and bustle of a prosperous Colonial seaport town? This tour invites you to discover the world of early Portsmouth from the perspective of African American women. In spite of enslavement and hardship, these women fought for freedom, defied a sitting president, and educated generations of children to follow. Hear their stories about love and faith and struggle, as you walk past the homes of the families who enslaved them.

Aug 1, Aug 16, Aug 30, Sep 12, Sep 27 & Oct 3 | 2:00 pm
Thirst for Freedom: From NH’s Slave Trade to its Civil Rights Movement
Sankofa Scholar & Tour Guide: Nur Shoop

Colonial Portsmouth newspapers testify to the local slave trade, runaways, abolitionists and anti-abolitionist activities, followed by conflicting opinions of the Civil War. In the 20th century, the legacy of that early history was reflected in news about de facto segregation in housing and public places. This tour includes many of those historic landmarks from the early nineteenth through the twentieth centuries.

July 26, Aug 8, Aug 23, Sep 20, Oct 11, Nov 8 | 2:00 pm
Sep 12, Oct 10 | 10:00 am
Meet Jack Stains, a “Black Jack” in Historic Old Portsmouth: A Living History Tour
Sankofa Scholar & Tour Guide: Kevin Wade Mitchell as Jack Staines
Seafaring was one of the most significant occupations among both enslaved and free Black men between 1740 and 1865. Black seamen sailed on whalers, warships, and privateers. Some were enslaved and forced to work at sea, but by 1800 most seamen were free to seek adventure and economic opportunity aboard ship. On this tour, you will meet Jack Staines, husband to Ona Judge Staines, the President and Martha Washington’s escaped slave, and experience Portsmouth through the life of one of its Black seamen.

Aug 7, Aug 28 | 10:00 am
Port of Entry: Boys and Girls for Sale
Tour Guide: Caraline Shaheen

Local newspapers carried merchants’ ads for ships returning to the port of Portsmouth laden with cargo from trade ports on the West Coast of Africa, the West Indies and the middle Atlantic coastal cities of Colonial America. Visit local wharves and auction sites related to the Atlantic Slave Trade, where a captive could be exchanged for “cash or good lumber” to serve in the master’s house or work on the docks or aboard a ship. See how slavery in the North compared to the South.

Aug 29, Sep 5 | 2:00 pm & Oct 3, Nov 7 | 10 am
Lives Bound Together: The Washingtons & Ona Marie Judge in NH
Tour Guide: Sonya Martino

During the Spring of 1796, George Washington’s final months in office, Ona Judge, an enslaved woman owned by the First Family, escaped the Executive Mansion in Philadelphia with the aid of that city’s free Black community and made her way to Portsmouth. On this tour, you will hear the true story of Ona’s quest for freedom and the President’s relentless efforts to get her back. See the waterfront where she lands and visit the properties of some of America’s most famous families; the Langdons, Whipples, and Lears, whose stories were also bound to her.

Oct 31 | 2:00 PM
We Remember: Cemeteries and Burying Grounds
Sankofa Scholar & Tour Guide: Angela Matthews

The African Burying Ground Memorial is one of at least six locations in the city where Black Americans and Africans have been laid to rest. Hear the stories and remember.

Date TBD
Backyards and Root Cellars: The Black Whipples
(Moffatt-Ladd House) Sankofa Scholars & Tour Guide: Kevin Wade Mitchell & Jennifer Belmont-Earl

As focus shifts from the front of the house to the backyards and root cellars of New Hampshire’s historic house museums, we consider the material culture experienced by household servants, including those whose unpaid labor and valuable black bodies helped create white family wealth. Date TBD

In Honor of Those Who Served: African American Military Veterans
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is included in this special 2-hour tour on wheels. Details TBA


Milford Black Heritage Trail Guided Tour
Sep 13, Oct 4, Nov 1, 2pm
Not enslaved, yet not free: Harriet E. Wilson and the Abolition Movement
Tour Guide: Kayla Lewis

Harriet E. Wilson was the first African American of any gender to publish a novel on the North American continent. Her novel, Our Nig, or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black was published in 1859. Born a free person of color in New Hampshire, Wilson was orphaned when young and bound until the age of 18 as an indentured servant. This tour will take you on a walk-in downtown Milford to see the sites connected to Wilson and her story.
Hancock Black Heritage Trail Guided Tour

Sunday, October 18, 10 am
Asserting Freedom: A Black History Tour in Hancock, NH
Tour Guide: Eric Aldrich

Hancock, a quintessential New England village, defies the march of time. At first glance, this little village seems to be slumbering away quite peacefully. However, buried just beneath the Colonial veneer of this seemingly all-white town is a vibrant history of early Black settlers who worked, bought land, built homes, challenged the church and struggled for freedom. On this tour, you will learner about formerly enslaved people of warner including Jack Ware and members o

On sale now: Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail Self-guided Tour Book
The full-color self-guided walking tour of Portsmouth book has maps and information about Black history in the Seacoast NH area.

There are several wonderful books for sale that can be purchased here:

About the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire

The mission of the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire is to promote awareness and appreciation of African American history and life in order to build more inclusive communities today. With recent events, this mission is more important now than ever. Please call us at 603-570-8469 for more information.

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