New Hampshire has long been considered one of the “whitest states in the union.” But JerriAnne Boggis, Executive Director of the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire, says that New Hampshire in fact has a rich African-American past. That past includes Harriet Wilson, the first Black woman to publish a novel in the United States, who was born and raised in Milford.

But until Boggis and a group of her fellow citizens commissioned a statue of Wilson, there had never been a statue in New Hampshire that honored a person of color. At the statue’s unveiling, Boggis gained a new understanding of the importance of representation. In this talk, she examines the symbols that remind us of the past, the stories they have to tell, and the importance of engaging with them to confront our complicated shared history. JerriAnne Boggis moved to the United States from Jamaica in 1977. She wears several hats, including Executive Director of the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire, writer, educator, and community activist. She works to correct the historical record on the racial complexity and richness of New Hampshire’s diverse past.

JerriAnne conceived, planned, and implemented the formation of the non-profit organization, The Harriet Wilson Project, designed to memorialize and honor Milford, New Hampshire’s author, Harriet E. Wilson, the first black female to publish a novel. She also raised the monies needed to build a life-size memorial to honor Wilson; which was installed in Milford, NH, on November 4, 2006.

She strives daily to continue to increase the visibility of black history in the state by believing that diversity programming is about social change. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

The fullness of our shared history | JerriAnne Boggis | TEDxAmoskeagMillyard