February 19, 2020

In Honor of Black History Month, Senator Hassan Recognizes JerriAnne Boggis, Valerie Cunningham as February’s Granite Staters of the Month

Following Recognition as Granite Staters of the Month, Senator Hassan, Boggis, and Cunningham Visited Portsmouth’s African Burying Ground

PORTSMOUTH – In honor of Black History Month, Senator Maggie Hassan today recognized JerriAnne Boggis, executive director of the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire, and Valerie Cunningham, founder of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, as February’s Granite Staters of the Month. Cunningham and Boggis were recognized for their work to bring to light New Hampshire’s too often forgotten Black history and engage communities across the state in conversations about New Hampshire’s full past. After presenting Boggis and Cunningham with a copy of the Congressional Record honoring their work, Senator Hassan walked with the two women to the African Burying Ground memorial in downtown Portsmouth, which commemorates the spot where 13 Africans were buried in the 18th century – their final resting place was then paved over and mostly forgotten until the late 20th century.


Boggis, who lives in Milford, began advocating on behalf New Hampshire’s Black history after she discovered that Milford was also the home of Harriet E. Wilson, one of the first African Americans in North America to publish a novel. To commemorate Wilson’s incredible achievement, Boggis established a nonprofit organization to erect a statue of Wilson, which also marked the first statue in New Hampshire to honor a person of color. You can learn more about the Harriet Wilson project here.


Cunningham grew up in Portsmouth and has spent years documenting African and African American history in New Hampshire. Cunningham created a physical embodiment of her decades of research by establishing the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail in 1995, with the intent of bringing public awareness to Portsmouth’s Black history. The Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail grew into the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire, which has played an important role in engaging Granite Staters about the topic of race in America. Learn more about the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire here


Senator Hassan launched the “Granite Stater of the Month” initiative in 2017 to recognize outstanding New Hampshire citizens who help make their communities stronger. To nominate a New Hampshire citizen to be a “Granite Stater of the Month,” constituents can complete the nomination form here.


To read Senator Hassan’s statement in the Congressional Record recognizing JerriAnne Boggis and Valerie Cunningham as February’s Granite Staters of the Month, click here.