The thing Martha’s Vineyard NAACP branch president Laurie Perry-Henry likes best about the jazz band Pieces of a Dream was their sense of togetherness and common purpose.
“That’s our theme for the NAACP, is One Nation, One Dream,” said Ms. Perry-Henry in an interview this week. “It’s almost prophetic in nature,” she said of the common values shared by the national civil rights group, and the smaller, musical one.
It was enough to unite the two groups for a fundraiser to benefit one of the Vineyard NAACP’s most important projects of the moment: a collaboration with the Island Affordable Housing Fund to raise money to build the Bradley Square housing complex in Oak Bluffs. On Thursday evening at 6 p.m., the doors of Nectar’s nightclub will open to Island supporters of the NAACP and affordable housing, first for a cocktail and hors d’oeuvre hour, then a meet and greet with Pieces of a Dream, a Philadelphia-based band, and finally a performance from the internationally-known jazz ensemble.
The Bradley Square project began three years ago, when the Island Affordable Housing Fund purchased the Denniston House, once owned by the Rev. Oscar E. Denniston and home of Bradley Memorial Church, the earliest African American church on Martha’s Vineyard. The plan calls for building 10 affordable housing apartments in three buildings at a cost of some $5.3 million.
“The NAACP stepped up and partnered with Island affordable housing because . . . we are an ardent supporter of affordable housing here on the Island, and the need is just so devastating here,” said Ms. Perry-Henry.
The Bradley Square complex is also planned as new Vineyard office headquarters for the NAACP. The NAACP has not had a permanent office on the Island since it first became a chapter in 1936.
Last summer, Gov. Deval Patrick, along with Cape and Islands Rep. Tim Madden and Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree attended a ground-breaking ceremony at the site. But the celebration proved a bit premature; later in the year, the project was stalled indefinitely when the fund ran into severe financing problems. Last December, the Oak Bluffs Community Preservation Committee denied a request to use $400,000 in Community Preservation Act money to help jump-start the project again, amid expression of concern about the financial viability of the Bradley Square.
But the NAACP has renewed its efforts, beginning with the fundraiser this week.
“Basically, we recommitted partnership this year,” said Ms. Perry-Henry.
On Thursday night, Nectar’s and Flatbread Pizza will both be partial sponsors of the event. Guests who pay $200 to support the Bradley Square project will meet the members of Pieces of a Dream from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Doors open for the musical show at 9 p.m.; advance tickets are $50, and $75 at the door. “This is a phenomenal group. They were swinging since they were like teenagers. Even Count Basie once proclaimed them a tough act to follow,” Ms. Perry-Henry said.
Also guest of honor at the event will be the NAACP’s national president and chief executive officer Benjamin Todd Jealous. And of course Ms. Perry-Henry said the NAACP has extended an invitation to President Obama and his family to attend. “This event promises to be the one you will be talking about for some time,” she said.
Tickets for Pieces of a Dream can be purchased through Nectar’s at 508-693-1137 or nectarsmv.com, or at Cousen Rose Gallery on Circuit avenue in Oak Bluffs.