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Are We Serious This Time: Shadow of Racial Healing

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Martha's Vineyard Performing Arts Center

100 Edgartown Road

Edgartown, MA 02568

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New England is proud of its legacy as the birthplace of liberty in North America, which is reflected in New Hampshire’s state motto “Live Free or Die.” However, many New Englanders may be surprised to learn about the oft-forgotten history of slavery and segregation in this area. During the next installment of our discussion series to uncover Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation work in our region, New England Blacks in Philanthropy (NEBiP) and the Kellogg Foundation are pleased to present a preview of the documentary Shadows Fall North.

This documentary explores the untold history of early Black Americans in our region. To complement the film, we have assembled a panel of leaders from local Black Heritage trails – director for the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail JerriAnne Boggis; consultant and historic preservationist Valerie Cunningham from New Hampshire and L’Merche Frazier, Director of Education and Interpretation from Boston’s Museum of African American History. At the center of our discussion will be a look at how our Heritage trails can be pathways to racial healing as we uncover the truth of our hidden past. Lisa Simmons, of The Color of Film Collaborative, Inc., will moderate the evening.

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Valerie Cunningham is a consulting producer of the film and an historic preservationist, founder of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail and coordinator of their Sankofa Tours. She is also a co-founder of the NH Women’s Heritage Trail and is an independent researcher, writer and lecturer. Her research formed the basis of the book she coauthored, Black Portsmouth: Three Centuries of African-American Heritage. Cunningham has received many local and national awards, including a Restore America Hero award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She was named 2015 Citizen of the Year by the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce and, in June 2015, was recognized at New Hampshire Humanities’ 40 over 40 Gala, which honored notable writers, filmmakers, teachers, volunteers, civic leaders, philanthropists, and scholars who have vastly enriched human understanding and whose original works and passion for excellence have put NH on the cultural map.

JerriAnne Boggis is a consulting producer of the film who came to America from her birthplace in Jamaica for an education and settled in Milford. Formerly the Director of Diversity Education and Community outreach at the University of New Hampshire, Boggis founded and led the Harriet Wilson Project in Milford. Chair of the NH Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights, she is also the current Director for the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail and the Executive Director of the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire. Boggis was the recipient of the 2015 Martin Luther King Award, presented by the Martin Luther King Coalition a New Hampshire resident whose community work brings the spirit of Dr. King to life. In June 2015, she was recognized at New Hampshire Humanities’ 40 over 40 Gala, which honored notable writers, filmmakers, teachers, volunteers, civic leaders, philanthropists, and scholars who have vastly enriched human understanding and whose original works and passion for excellence have put NH on the cultural map. She was also named the recipient of the 2017 Seacoast NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award.

L’Merchie Frazier is the Director of Education and Interpretation for the Museum of African American History, Boston/Nantucket, highlighting the Museum’s collection/exhibits, providing place-based education and interdisciplinary history programs, projects and lectures, most recently promoting STEM / STEAM education pedagogy. She has served the artistic community for over twenty years as an award winning national and international visual and performance artist and poet. Her fiber works serve to document history and memory, and often include innovative technology. These artworks are featured in a series entitled The Quilted Chronicles and Pearls for Peace. Selected works are included in several art publications and in the permanent collections of the Museum of Art and Design, the Smithsonian Institute and the White House.

Lisa Simmons is the Program Manager for Local Cultural Councils and the Festivals Program at the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She is also the Director of the Roxbury International Film Festival (RoxFilm) whose mission is to screen films that celebrate people of color across the world and support filmmakers who are creating media aligned with RoxFilm’s mission. The Festival is now in its 19th year. Ms. Simmons has produced theater and film in the Boston area and has written and presented on the subject of the Negro Theater Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). She is currently working on a feature length documentary on the Boston Unit of the Negro Theatre Project that occurred between 1935-1939.

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Martha's Vineyard Performing Arts Center

100 Edgartown Road

Edgartown, MA 02568

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