The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire organization produces the Annual Black New England Conference, provides tours, film screening, books and educational material and more. View upcoming events listed below.
PORTSMOUTH — The Seacoast NAACP honored JerriAnne Boggis at its annual Freedom Fund Dinner Saturday night.
Boggis is executive director of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail and has served on the New Hampshire Advisory Board for the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and as chairwoman of the University of New Hampshire’s Commission on the Status of People of Color.
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Rogers Johnson, president of the Seacoast NAACP, said the group “annually recognizes an individual who has and continues to serve many communities.” It chose to honor Boggis this year because it seeks to pay tribute to “people in the community who are providing information, education and awareness of the black experience in New Hampshire,” Johnson said.
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“Obviously, you can go back and look at people who have done so over time and JerriAnn is one of those people,” Johnson said Thursday.
Boggis is also the former director of Diversity Education and Community Outreach at UNH.
“If you just look at the sequence and the number of things she’s been involved with, she’s been deeply involved in the community for more than a decade if not longer,” Johnson said.
Boggis called the honor “a big surprise.”
“I’m definitely humbled and honored to be receiving the award from the NAACP,” she said.
She offered that she believes the award is not so much for her, “but for the work that the groups I work with do.”
“Hopefully, our work makes a difference in the state,” she said. “We’re really focusing on social issues and historical issues and how we can work together and how we can move forward.”
She believes one of the biggest racial issues in New Hampshire is “the misconceptions we have about each other.”
“That’s what racism is,” Boggis said.
People who don’t know each other sometimes “describe people and create a barrier,” she said. “It’s an easy thing to do but it’s not true,” Boggis said. “I think once we start seeing the humanity in all of us and realize we share the same dreams, hopes and desires, we can get beyond stereotypes and speak as individuals.”
She agreed that like the rest of the country, New Hampshire is getting more diverse. “Our demographics across the whole country are being changed,” Boggis said. “That’s an undisputable fact.”
But she stressed it would be wrong to say “we’ve never had people of color in New Hampshire.”
“We may be a small percentage, but that doesn’t mean we’re not here,” she said.