Portsmouth NH honors Black History Month with African Burying Ground ceremony
2/14/2012, 12:57 p.m.
Late on the evening of February 13, 2012, the Soweto Gospel Choir from South Africa and local drummer Randy Armstrong led African drummers in a procession of 400+ who had attended the Choir's concert from The Music Hall along a candle lantern-lit path to the site of Portsmouth's future African Burying Ground Memorial Park on Chestnut Street. The cemetery was rediscovered during 2003 during street excavations and is the only DNA authenticated early 18th century cemetery for persons of African descent in New England. Carrying candles, the crowd honored the occasion and Black History Month as the Reverands Arthur Hilson, Dawn Shippee Chris Jablonski and Lauren Smith (clergy from Portsmouth churches) read the poem "We Stand in Honor of Those Forgotten" by the Memorial sculptor Jerome Meadows and the Soweto Gospel Choir performed the encore, "Music on Sacred Ground." For information about the African Burying Ground: www.africanburyinggroundnh.org The Music Hall and the African Burying Ground are both sites on the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail.