On June 19, 1865, about two months after the Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Va., Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. General Granger’s announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued more than two and a half years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln.

A century and a half later, people in cities and towns across the U.S. continue to celebrate and commemorate the occasion. The holiday received its name by combining June and 19. The day is also sometimes called “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.”

Racism and hate crimes are rampant in our world today. Disproportionally, persons of African descent are marginalized and oppressed by racist systems and bias. Juneteenth can be a reminder that freedom for people of African descent has yet to be fully achieved and the work for racial justice must go on. As people of faith, we are called to understand this and act as interrupters and allies with our black and brown siblings.

On the 19th we will commemorate Juneteenth in our worship service. Ruth Sanchez and Rev. Dawn Berry will offer context for the role we play in remembering Juneteenth. There will be a chance for lament and apology for the past and ongoing harm done to people of African descent by people of European descent.

Please consider deepening your understanding of Juneteenth and consider, as a person of faith, what are you called to do to confront the remains of racism in our world:

Children’s Books:

  • Cooper, Floyd, Juneteenth for Mazie (MN: Capstone Young Readers, 2015).
  • Duncan, Alice Faye, Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free (Nashville, TN: Tommy Nelson, 2022).
  • Johnson, Angela, All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom, (New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014).

Women's History Month - 8 Ingenious Women of Color

Click here to read about eight indigenous women of color, collected by First Church in March 2022.

racial justice church - what's next

We are now a Racial Justice Church based on our vote in June. That vote will be submitted to the UCC and, we hope, recognized after their review. Thank you all for voting in our annual meeting on June 6th!

There are other UCC churches in New Hampshire that are also undertaking the process of study, contemplation and awareness that we have completed. We appreciate the attention, commitment and discovery that the vote of our church community has bestowed on First Church. Thank you all so much for your vision, your attention and your fundamental belief in justice for all people!

The summer is a time of rest and contemplation. We are adding some things to this web page that I hope you will consider and learn from, but we are also not asking for the level of commitment right now that guided us to our vote in June.

The Racial Justice Team is considering “next steps”, a future path forward, and the addition of new materials that we hope will engage and inspire. This summer we hope, however, you will consider listening to some of the Seeing White podcasts. We hope to convene a monthly group discussion and will schedule it through the church bulletin. The link is: https://www.sceneonradio.org/seeing-white/

Educational Recommendations

articles about racism in New Hampshire and elsewhere
Podcasts and other Web-based Opportunities
  • Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
  • The Cross and the Lynching Tree, by James H. Cone
  • White Too Long, by Robert P Jones
  • How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi
  • The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together, by Heather McGhee
  • The Lessons of Ubuntu, by Mark Mathabane
  • My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, by Resmaa Menakem
  • My Vanishing Country: A Memoir, by Bakari Sellers
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander
  • Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race, by Derald Wing Sue
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
  • Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debby Irving
  • The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson
  • White Fragility , by Robin DiAngelo
  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • 13th – Combining archival footage with testimony from activists and scholars, director Ava DuVernay’s examination of the U.S. prison system looks at how the country’s history of racial inequality drives the high rate of incarceration in America.
  • Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer – This is a new National Geographic Film documenting events in 1919-1921, the racial unrest and multiple massacres that tore our country apart and have subsequently almost been lost to history and covered up by lack of subsequent attention.
  • The Color of Fear – Eight North American men, two African American, two Latinos, two Asian American and two Caucasian were gathered by director Lee Mun Wah, for a dialog about the state of race relations in America as seen through their eyes. The exchanges are sometimes dramatic, and put in plain light the pain caused by racism in North America.
  • Freedom Riders – Freedom Riders is the powerful harrowing and ultimately inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws in order to test and challenge a segregated interstate travel system, the Freedom Riders met with bitter racism and mob violence along the way, sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism.
  • Just Mercy – A powerful true story that follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his battle for justice as he defends a man sentenced to death despite evidence proving his innocence.
  • Selma – 2014 historical drama film directed by Ava DuVernay, based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches.
  • Gather – Gather is an intimate portrait of the growing movement amongst Native Americans to reclaim their spiritual, political and cultural identities through food sovereignty, while battling the trauma of centuries of genocide.
  • Suppressed – Suppressed weaves together personal stories from voters across the state of Georgia to paint an undeniable picture of voter suppression in the 2018 midterm election. Stacey Abrams fought to become the first Black female governor in the U.S. while her opponent, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, was in charge of running the election. In a race that was ultimately decided by 54,723 votes, the film exposes that the basic constitutional right to vote continues to be under siege in America.
  • Shadows Fall North – A documentary exploring how a state with the motto “Live Free or Die” and a celebrated history of abolitionism confronts and understands its participation in slavery, segregation and neglect.
  • High on the Hog – This Netflix series tapped years of scholarship and the life experience of its creators to chart how African Americans have shaped the country’s cuisine. Chef and writer Stephen Satterfield traces the delicious, moving throughlines from Africa to Texas in this docuseries.
MUSINGS BY JerriAnne Boggis

The following “Musing” is from the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire’s recent e-newsletter. Click the link to visit their website, watch videos, join their email list, make a donation, and more: http://blackheritagetrailnh.org/.

With mid-summer coming and my family preparing for our annual trek to the White Mountains, I couldn’t help but think about the majestic Old Man of the Mountain who kept watch over New Hampshire for thousands of years.

This landmark was integral to the state’s identity living on in books and as an emblem on highway signs, on license plates, and even as a US coin … our state quarter. Hawthorne famously memorialized our granite formation, as an “enormous giant, or a Titan,” with a “broad arch of the forehead,” and a “long-bridged nose” that spoke to the solid, sturdy, rugged characteristics of New Hampshire’s citizenry.

Its collapse in 2003 was like a death in the family to many who left flowers at the base the mountain as a tribute.

In thinking of the Old Man, I couldn’t help but also think about another rock formation carved by Mother Nature that still stands today, the Indian Head in Franconia. For me, its curved nose and spiked hair, speak to our land’s indigenous inhabitants, the Abenaki and the Western Pennacook peoples. And I couldn’t help but think about the different stories that could have lived on just as ubiquitously as stories of the Old Man if our state also honored this granite formation with as much vigor.

Recently, Yvonne Goldsberry, the president of New Hampshire’s Endowment for Health, shared an article (under the Did You Know section below) that announced the digitization of her great-great grandmother’s library books that served the community of color in Worchester, MA in the 1800s. This article reminds us that there are many ways of maintaining historical memory landscapes. Here too was another story that changes the landscape of what we think our New England is about. This permanent collection tells the story of generations of African Americans who were successful, extremely well educated, and devoted to enriching their community.

How much richer would our lives be if our diverse stories were given equal attention?