Tom Watson, president of the Portsmouth Athenaeum, said the bill signing was important for several reasons, including the simple act of righting a wrong. It also serves a reminder of contributions that African-Americans have made to the state.
“The public acknowledgement of our mistakes is really the first step in the process of reconciliation that all societies must go through if they’re going to address injustice,” he said.
Valerie Cunningham, who wrote a history of slavery in Portsmouth, noted that the petitioners weren’t asking for money, nor were they just asking for their own freedom; they were asking the state to abolish slavery altogether.
“Let’s celebrate today with the expectation that this symbolic act will remind us to continue working for social justice here in the Granite State,” she said.