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Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail
Site #17
South Church
292 State Street

South Church interior The earliest recorded black family in Portsmouth appears in the South Church records of baptism in 1717. One-hundred fifty years later, South Church's Unitarian women are reputed to have been part of the pre-Civil War "Underground Railroad," violating federal law by helping fugitive slaves out of the country. After the Civil War, they founded, funded and operated schools for newly freed black Americans in the South, in which as many as 100 students, ranging from infants to elderly, were instructed together. In the 20th century, South Church ministers have been guest preachers at Portsmouth's black People's Baptist Church, and among the organizers of the local civil rights movement.

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