Tea Talks

2018 Elinor Williams Hooker Tea Talks 

Presented by the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire in partnership with the Portsmouth Public Library, these Sunday afternoon “Tea Talks” will be held at the Portsmouth Public Library, Levenson Room, 175 Parrot Avenue, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, from 2 – 4 pm.

Events are Free and open to the public unless noted otherwise.
In case of inclement weather, a cancelled talk will be rescheduled for Sunday, March 18 or Sunday, March 25.

We speak so much of memory for there is so little of ours left.” Pierre Nora

Every society has its collective memories. The U.S. has, among others, Washington and the cherry tree, Paul Revere’s ride, and Benjamin Franklin’s inventions. This series of participatory lectures related to New Hampshire’s hidden history of people of color will explore how memory is shaped and how it operates to create a value system even if what is collectively remembered deviates from facts.

Sunday, February 4

Reclaiming Native American Culture

2018 Tea TalksContrary to popular belief, New Hampshire’s history did not begin with the arrival of European settlers and all of New Hampshire’s indigenous people were not killed off by disease and war. At six million strong, Native Americans are a vibrant part of America’s present. This talk will explore current debates, including the perennial discussion over an art panel in the US Post Office in Durham and the effects of race on reclaiming indigenous spaces of remembrance not only in New Hampshire but across the country.  

Paul Pouliot, Chief Speaker for the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook & Abenaki People
Siobhan Senier, Professor of English, University of New Hampshire
Liz Charlebois, Abenaki educator, artist, and leader

Sunday, February 11

Black Men as Ritual Sacrifice for the Creation of White Identity

2018 Tea talksMost conversations about race focus on inter-racial violence and competition (whites v. people of color). This talk explores intra-racial violence and competition (elite whites v working class and poor whites) as the origin and purpose behind the creation of what we call “white” and how this designation is maintained through ritual violence and the ritual use of a sacrificial class of underprivileged people to diffuse that competition.
Warning: PowerPoint presentation contains graphic images.

Rev. Ian White Maher

Sunday, February 18

Sites of Memory: Reconstructing the Past

2018 Tea TalkIn a compelling speech about race in America, Mitch Landrieu said “There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.” Through discussing physical and artistic sites of memory, including the Confederate memorial in York Maine, a cellar hole in Hancock, NH, and the pages of a graphic novel, this panel will explore how a narrative picture of the past develops an identity for our present.

Senator David Watters, Retired Professor of English, UNH
Eric Aldrich, Independent Scholar
Joel Christian Gill, American cartoonist, comics artist, graphic novelist

Sunday, February 25

Ain’t I a Woman

2018 Tea talk

In the wake of Democrat Doug Jones’ victory in the Alabama special election, Black women again became icons, trapped in a cycle of ennoblement, flattening, and dehumanization.

Black women and girls have continually been on the front lines of progressive change movements, using their voices and stories to mobilize intersectional coalitions to dismantle oppressive systems. Yet, they are routinely portrayed in television and film as sassy, neck-rolling harpies with major attitude problems. Black women say these depictions have real world consequences in their lives and careers.

Delia Konzett, Professor of English, University of New Hampshire
Courtney Marshall, Instructor in English, Philips Exeter Academy
Professor Aria Halliday,
Professor Kabria Baumgartner, 

Sunday, March 4

Richard Potter: America’s First Black Celebrity
Author Presentation, Living History Performance, Book Signing & House Tour

Apart from a handful of exotic and almost completely unreliable tales surrounding his life, Richard Potter is mostly unknown today. Two hundred years ago he was the most popular entertainer in America—in fact, the first showman to win nationwide fame. His story is even more remarkable in that Richard Potter was also a black man. Working as a magician and ventriloquist, he personified for an entire generation what a popular performer was and made an invaluable contribution to establishing popular entertainment as a major part of American life.

Join author John Hodgson as he shares his work on one of the most captivating personalities in the history of his craft. Get a rare peek backstage at the dawning of the entertainment industry, the rise of American celebrity and learn of Potter’s New Hampshire connection.

“The thrill I felt in reading Hodgson’s pathbreaking book—and, through it, discovering Richard Potter, the man and his times—was, in a word, magical.”  Henry Louis Gates Jr.

This event will also offer a living history performance featuring Bob Olson, a book signing, and a guided backstage tour of the Portsmouth Music Hall.
Author John Hodgson and Living History Performer Bob Olson
Robert Olson, from Old Sturbridge Village, has spent the past 30 years studying and recreating Potter’s magic.

12:30 – 1:30 pm Tour of Portsmouth Music Hall [TBA]
2: 00- 2:30 pm Living History Performance
2:30 – 3:15 Author Presentation
3:15 – 4:00 Q&A
Book Signing and Refreshments

Location for this event will be announced. Registration is required. More info coming soon.

Sunday, March 11

I Can’t Breathe: Musings from a New Generation of New Hampshirites

When we mark down our history through a form of memorialization, we not only ensure that we will not forget the person or event paid tribute to, but that our future generations will have this knowledge as well. Hear from a group of young New Hampshire residents about their journey to self-discovery as ‘people of color’ in a state often described as “lilly white.”

Jubilee Byfield, University of New Hampshire, Class of 2019
Nya Barnette [TBA]
Grace Wilson,


Paul Pouliot is President and Chief Speaker for the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook & Abenaki People. The goals of the Cowasuck Band is to bring history back into focus and to correct many misconceptions about the relationship of Native People and the founding of the United States. It provides educational and cultural programs, social services, religious services and environmental programs. The Cowasuck Band’s longer-term goal is to purchase land and establish an Indian community and economic base, to practice their spiritual heritage and religion in freedom and to live in harmony with nature and the environment.


Siobhan Senier’s teaching and research interests include Native American Studies, Sustainability Studies, Digital Humanities, American literature, and Women’s Studies. She is the author of Voices of American Indian Assimilation and Resistance (2001), as well as essays in such journals as American Literature, New England Quarterly, American Indian Quarterly, and Studies in American Indian Literatures.  Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Writing from Indigenous New England, a collection she authored with a dozen regional Native writers and historians, is forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press. Currently, Dr. Senier holds the UNH Center for the Humanities Hayes Chair, which supports the annual Indigenous New England Conference and the website Writing of Indigenous New England. 

Liz Charlebois is an Abenaki educator, artist, and leader. She was Chair of the New Hampshire Commission on Native American Affairs from 2013-2016, and is an accomplished basket maker, bead worker, dancer, and farmer.  Liz’s focus is growing and preserving northeastern indigenous crops.  She has established a seed library dedicated to those seeds.   Liz uses the food she grows in many indigenous dishes, both traditional and contemporary.  She is a member of the younger generation of Abenaki people who are working to preserve and revitalize the culture, history, and identity of our original inhabitants.



Rev. Ian White Maher is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister and writer. He believes we need to intentionally combine spiritual practices and educational endeavors if we want to transform our culture​ and find our way out of the labyrinth of white supremacy. He was born and raised in Portsmouth N.H.



Senator David Watters teaches courses on New Hampshire and New England literature, history, and culture at the University of New Hampshire. He has served on the executive committee of the UNH faculty union. David is frequently heard on New Hampshire Public Radio as consultant for Granite State Stories and the Immigration Project. Deeply concerned about preserving our history, culture, arts, and environment, David served eight years as a trustee of the New Hampshire Historical Society, and on the board of directors for the New Hampshire Humanities, the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, Pontine Movement Theatre, Strawbery Banke Museum’s Center for the Study of Community, and the Robert Frost Farm.


Eric Aldrich,  a lifelong New Hampshire resident, lives in Hancock, where he has spent years researching cellar holes and the people who once lived in those now-wild places. He has worked as a reporter for the Keene Sentinel and editor for the N.H. Fish and Game Department, and is currently a communications specialist for The Nature Conservancy. He is also avid naturalist, studying bobcats in a long-term independent project in the Hancock area.

Joel Christian Gill  is the chairman, CEO, president, director of Strange Fruit Comics. He is the author/illustrator of 2 books from Fulcrum Publishing Strange Fruit vol I Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History May 2014 and Tales of the Talented Tenth Fall 2014. In his spare time he is the Chair of Foundations at the New Hampshire Institute of Art and member of The Boston Comics Roundtable.  He received his MFA from Boston University and a BA from Roanoke College. His secret lair is behind a secret panel in the kitchen of his house (sold separately) in New Boston, New Hampshire where he lives with his wife, four children a talking dog and 2 psychic cats.

Delia Konzett, Ph.D. is Professor of English and Cinema/American/Women’s Studies at The University of New Hampshire. She is the author of “Ethnic Modernisms” and “Hollywood’s Hawaii” (Rutgers UP, 2017), the first full-length study of the film industry’s intense engagement with the Pacific region from 1898 to the present. Her new book highlights films that mirror the cultural and political climate of the country over more than a century — from the era of U.S. imperialism on through Jim Crow racial segregation, the attack on Pearl Harbor and WWII, the civil rights movement, the contemporary articulation of consumer and leisure culture, as well as the buildup of the modern military industrial complex. Focusing on important cultural questions pertaining to race, nationhood and war, the book offers a unique view of Hollywood film history produced about the national periphery for mainland U.S. audiences. “Hollywood’s Hawaii” presents a history of cinema that examines Hawaii and the Pacific and its representations in film in the context of colonialism, war, Orientalism, occupation, military buildup and entertainment.

Aria S. Halliday is assistant professor of Africana feminisms in women’s studies at the University of New Hampshire. Dr. Halliday joined the UNH faculty in 2017. Her research spans the interdisciplinary fields of American studies; African American studies; women’s, gender, and sexuality studies; and cultural studies, focusing on Black American and Caribbean women’s visual and material cultural production. Black feminist theory informs her current research, in which she examines the representation of Black women’s and girls’ sexual expression in popular culture and the ways in which those expressions shape radicalism, consumerism and new media cultures.  She is the founder of Ruthless — a blog on Black women, feminism and Christianity — and the Digital Black Girls, a digital humanities project that documents representations of Black girls in popular culture.

Kabria Baumgartner is an assistant professor of American studies, a core faculty member in the Women’s Studies Program and a faculty affiliate in the History Department. Her research focuses on the social and political realities of African American women’s activism in the United States, from the late eighteenth century to the present. She has earned numerous awards to support her research, including fellowships from the Library Company of Philadelphia, the American Antiquarian Society, the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation and the Massachusetts Historical Society. Baumgartner’s publications include recent scholarly articles in the New England Quarterly and the Journal of the Early Republic as well as a book chapter on the female seminary movement in Margaret Nash’s edited volume, “Women’s Higher Education in the United States: New Historical Perspectives” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).

Courtney Marshall uses Black feminist theory to transform the world of group fitness and personal training. In 2015, she left a career in higher education to create Jump at The Sun Fitness and bring Black women’s brilliance to the gym. She loves chronicling her adventures as an obstacle course racer, CrossFitter,Powerlifte, and Zumba instructor. In addition to AFAA certifications in group exercise and personal training, she holds a PhD in English and teaches at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH.


John A. Hodgson graduated from Dartmouth College and received his Ph.D. in English Literature from Yale University, then taught at Yale, the University of Georgia, and Harvard University before becoming a dean at Princeton University in 1994.  At Princeton, he was the Dean of Forbes College until his retirement in August 2014.  He is the author of three previous books:  Wordsworth’s Philosophical Poetry (1980); Coleridge, Shelley, and Transcendental Inquiry (1989); and Sherlock Holmes: The Major Stories with Contemporary Critical Essays (1994).  His essays have appeared in Studies in Romanticism, Romanticism on the Net, The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Poetics Today, ELH, and American Literature and various other journals and in several of the MLA’s Approaches to Teaching . . . collections.  His most recent essay on Arthur Conan Doyle appears in The Blackwell Companion to Crime Fiction (2010).  His forthcoming book, Richard Potter, America’s First Black Celebrity (University of Virginia Press), will appear in January 2018.


Robert Olson, who lives in Putnam, CT, is a skilled magician, somewhat of a historian, an incorrigible actor and the assistant director of interpretation at Old Sturbridge Village. Mr. Olson has spent the last 11 years faithfully replicating the original magic act of Richard Potter, a traveling New England magician who, with the aid of mysteriously “empowered” stick, quick hand and a golden tongue, prospered in the early 19th century.



Elinor Williams Hooker

 Elinor Williams Hooker (July 10, 1933 -January 27, 2012), a long time New Hampshire resident and community activist, was born July 10, 1933 in Pittsburgh, PA, daughter of the late Dr. Ulysses Williams and Louise G. Williams. The family’s Pittsburgh home was near Wylie Avenue an active community of black businesses, jazz music and churches, a location that would shape her lifelong interest in multicultural activities.

Mrs. Hooker was a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University where she majored in French and English. She taught English in Junior and Senior High Schools in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, PA, Brockton and Quincy, MA and Concord, NH and served as a tutor in the English as a Second Language Program at Nashua’s Pennichuck Junior High.

Elinor was the wife of Thomas L. Hooker, who served from 1966 to 1974 as Director of the New Hampshire Division of Welfare.

2017 Tea Talks Archive

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Phone: 617-539-6886
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Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire

The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire works to visibly honor and celebrate a truer more inclusive state’s history through exhibits, programs and tours that can change the way our country understands human dignity when it is free of historical stereotypes.

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