Black Lives Matter Seacoast Announces Black Excellence Weekend

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Join us as we celebrate a Weekend of Black Excellence with our Black Excellence Conference and Awards Night!

Dover, NH – Black Lives Matter Seacoast (BLM Seacoast) invites you to attend our Black Excellence Weekend on February 25th & 26th on the campus of the University of New Hampshire! Our Black Excellence Weekend was created to celebrate and honor the past, present and future of Black, Indigenous and Brown people, our successes and our cultures during Black History Month. Tickets can be purchased today before our Early Bird Pricing Ends!

Saturday February 25

Day 1 of the Black Excellence Weekend features our Black Excellence Conference at Hamilton Smith Hall at the University of New Hampshire! This empowering first day of the conference draws talented BIPOC professionals from different industries by offering access to distinguished speakers and panelists and a trusted environment to network, celebrate excellence among our peers, and share innovative practices to advance our community. 

The day will start at the Atrium in Hamilton Smith Hall at 9 AM, where you will hear the speech, “Be Limitless: Living your life without Limits!” by our spectacular Keynote Speaker, Angel Simone! Originally from Liverpool, England, Angel now lives in Portsmouth with her children. They hold a master’s in Engineering. As a person with a marginalized identity, Angel Simone is dedicated to creating spaces where people from diverse backgrounds and experiences can come together in ways that foster meaningful connections. As a speaker, trainer & coach, she has a passion for empowering others to discover their unique potential and becoming the next best version of themselves. Angel has captivated audiences as a TEDx speaker, and podcast guest. Angel has corporate training experience in both nonprofit and for-profit sectors. She volunteers on the board of NH Theatre Project.

Then the conference will split into six co-occurring breakout sessions in the morning and six different co-occurring breakout sessions in the afternoon and the conference will close out with a panel titled “Speak It Into Existence: Expanding Black Youth’s Definition of Excellence in New Hampshire.” Diannely Antigua, the Poet Laureate of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, will host it with NH PANTHER (Plymouth Area Network To Help End Racism). Complimentary breakfast and lunch will be provided for attendees. 

Details for the morning sessions: 

“Black Queer Excellence Through History” by Jason Green

A Celebration of Same-Gender Loving African-Americans from the 1920s to Present. At the end of this presentation, attendees should be able to generate a list of notable LGBTQ African-American’s, understand why queer visibility is important, and appreciate the need for allyship for all marginalized communities.

“Surviving and Thriving While Black on Campus” by Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Sherri Simmons-Horton & Sheryl Thompson

Black women faculty at the University of New Hampshire will discuss Black academic life and what it means to be intellectual creators in sometimes hostile academic spaces.

“The Power of Allyship to Drive Inclusion” by Flo Nicolas

Allyship is about actively supporting people from marginalized groups—using position, power, or privilege to advocate for them. Allies can use their influence to benefit those who come from underrepresented groups. Fostering an inclusive, equitable, and diverse workplace through allyship is crucial to creating a sense of belonging and welcoming environments for marginalized groups. Being an ally not only helps create an equal society and world for all but also helps us learn, grow, and find our voices. We should use our voices for good to support the voiceless and advocate for marginalized groups.

“Piece it Together” by Jermai Harrison

Every day we are faced with 24 hours to live through. Sometimes we are faced with things that do not make sense until we reflect back on them. Excellence is not a one time decision, action, or thought; it is a series of events compiled into a lifestyle. The difficult part of adolescence is figuring out the meaning of life and how to navigate through it. This interactive discussion will focus on how to build a life of excellence by piecing together daily decisions, emotional awareness, and creating strong connections to others. Every puzzle starts with the vision and then the assembly!

“Self Awareness, Rest & Liberation: Shifting Cultural Patterns and Narratives in the name of Wellness and Healing” by Marlene Boyette 

This workshop invites participants to examine and discuss generational and cultural narratives and patterns that continue to be upheld around hyper performance, grind culture, suffering and burnout. Together we will unpack and reframe these narratives, centering self awareness and mind-body connection, in an effort to move toward healing, rest and liberation for Black and Brown people. This is not a yoga workshop, but will incorporate some yogic and mindfulness approaches and principles.

“Rest is Resistance” by Saniyah Bolton & Yasmin Salerno 

The phrase “Rest is Resistance” is often used to express the idea that taking a break from work or daily activities can be difficult, especially when there are deadlines to meet or expectations to fulfill. The phrase is meant to encourage people to take time for themselves and to prioritize their mental and physical health, despite the pressures of life. It is a reminder that rest is not laziness, but a necessary and valuable aspect of self-care.

Details for the afternoon sessions: 

“Black Granite – Our State, Our Stories” by Samantha Searles

We know what it’s like. You’re the only melanated person in the room. All eyes turn to you when someone mentions the new Little Mermaid. Nobody understands our hair. But, of course, it goes deeper than that. You drive by a confederate flag. Your kids’ school board is in an anti-CRT frenzy. You’re seen as a threat. In my case, someone in Concord yelled I should go back to Africa.But there’s also stories of strength and overcoming. There are Black families experiencing Juneteenth for the first time. There are generations of storytellers coming together at the Black Heritage Trail. There are changemakers and rebels. There is a special kind of power that comes in being Black in New Hampshire, power as strong as the rock all around us. This is Black Granite, a podcast dedicated to Black stories in New Hampshire. Hosted by Sam Searles, this is a chance for all of us to show the state who we are – beautiful.

“What does it mean to be an Ally to the Disability Community” by Deborah Opramolla

Learn How to build a table that listens and includes the Disability Community and how to tell difference acknowledgment vs. inspiration points. This session will focus on understanding the difference between being an ally vs you know what the community needs.

“How do you know what you know?” by Dr. Carrie Colbert

How is knowledge acquired? Where does it come from and how does knowledge affect how we behave towards others? Individuals base their source of knowledge on the following: perception, memory, introspection, inference and testimony. We live in a world of “misunderstandings” where we tend to rely on those sources of knowledge before trying to understand the person or situation in front of us. In this interactive session, we will explore how we perceive others will shape our behavior, and the behavior of the person we are interacting with.

“From Praisin’ to Twerkin’ (Celebrating Black Queer Artists)” by Jason Green

Black Queer Artists are present in every genre of music. Hip-Hop, R&B, Jazz, Dance and Gospel. Join us for a celebration of black musicianship as we go through each genre, lift up these names and their music, and maybe sing and shake our ass along the way!!!

“Staying Healed in your Roots: Healing Circle” by Vanessa Weathers

You are invited to join this healing circle for people who have experienced, or are experiencing, racial trauma. This healing circle will include facilitator led discussion that will allow for validation of your feelings and that will guide you on different protective measures. There will also be a guided meditation focused on balancing your root, sacral, solar plexus, and crown chakras to aid you in feeling safe and secure.

Racial trauma, or race-based traumatic stress (RBTS), refers to the mental and emotional injury caused by encounters with racial bias and ethnic discrimination, racism, and hate crimes. Similar to other forms of trauma, experiences with racial discrimination are associated with negative mental (e.g., depression, anxiety, hopelessness, violent behavior) and physical (e.g., hypertension, thickening and calcification of the arteries, and heart rate variability) health outcomes.

Part of self-care for many individuals includes relational care because healing from racial trauma does not happen in a vacuum.

“Hip-Hop History and Hip-Hop AS History” by Akrobatik

Boston Hip Hop artist and UMass Boston lecturer Akrobatik gives a crash course on the history of America’s cultural phenomenon and the world’s favorite musical genre, Hip-Hop. The focus will be on emphasizing the importance of Hip-Hop History in every American history curriculum.

Sunday February 26

On February 26th at 5pm in the Strafford Room in the Memorial Union Building, we are hosting our 3rd Black Lives Matter Seacoast Excellence Awards! On this night, we will be honoring Black, Indigenous and People of Color community members who have contributed greatly to New Hampshire, Maine & Massachusetts! This space is to give a platform to BIPOC people whose recognition is long overdue. Nominations are still open so nominate a community member today!

The Black Excellence Awards ceremony will be hosted by the first Black Assistant Mayor of Portsmouth, Joanna Kelly. Our Keynote Speaker for the night is the phenomenal Stephanie Bramlett (Ph.D). Stephanie Bramlett is the Vice Chair of BLM Seacoast, past speaker at TEDxPortsmouth, and the inaugural Director of Equity and Inclusion at Phillips Exeter Academy. She works with every constituency group at PEA– all employees, students, parents, trustees, alumni, and the broader Exeter community. Stephanie is the head of the summer Exeter Diversity Institute and is a board member of the New England chapter of People of Color in Independent Schools. 

The categories in which we will be honoring fellow BIPOC community member includes:

  • Community Impact Leader Award: This award is for any BIPOC individual who shows extraordinary dedication and service to the community. 
  • Academic Leader Award: This award is for any BIPOC individual who demonstrates strong leadership within education and to recognize the passion and commitment to educating others. 
  • Youth Trailblazer Award: This award is for any BIPOC individual under 18 years of age who demonstrates leadership skills and positively impacts their peers and the community. 
  • Collegiate Brilliance as an Undergraduate Student Award: This award is for recognition of a BIPOC individual within higher education working on their undergraduate degree that positively impacts the community. 
  • Ground-breaker in Graduate Studies Award: This award recognizes a BIPOC individual within higher education working on their graduate degree that positively impacts the community. 
  • Outstanding Business Owner Award: This award is for any BIPOC business owner that demonstrates excellence and contributes positively to their community. 
  • Excellence in Artistry Award: This award is for the recognition of exceptional performance or work by a BIPOC artist.

We will also have a great 90’s Hip-HOP and R&B originally from Boston, DJ MAM, doing the DJing for our event and UNH catering providing dinner. 

A special thank you goes out to the Women’s and Gender Studies Department of University of New Hampshire for helping put this Weekend together. 

Additional details and the link to purchase tickets will be posted on our website.

If you are having financial difficulties and still wish to attend, please email us at

Any accessibility needs or general questions, please email us at

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