In the years when much of America was racially segregated, Oak Bluffs was a place of refuge for African Americans. The town will be included an in upcoming permanent Smithsonian exhibit in Washington, D.C. An event will be held Thursday at the Union Chapel.
The news of the Smithsonian Institute including Oak Bluffs in an exhibit in the National Museum of African American History and Culture is spreading and creating much excitement. People are proud that our small town will be nationally acknowledged for its contributions to black history, appropriately enough with this announcement in February.
Celebrated as a vacation spot for many whose contributions are highlighted during Black History Month, Oak Bluffs is also proud of lesser-known black entrepreneurs who established successful businesses.
Oak Bluffs selectman Walter Vail called it a perfect Vineyard day. Kites hung in the clear blue sky over Ocean Park and a light breeze blew in off Nantucket Sound on Saturday. A crowd had gathered beneath a peaked tent to celebrate the memory of Della Hardman, a leader in the Island African American community and in the Island community as a whole.
The ninth annual African American Cultural Festival will offer the exhibit Freedom: The Story of Us, along with plenty of children’s activities, vendors, dancing, mini-lectures and more. The festival is from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Hartford Park in Oak Bluffs on July 25 and 26. It is sponsored by The Cottagers of Martha’s Vineyard.
Jim Thomas and his Spirituals Choir will perform on Saturday, June 29, at 7:30 p.m. at the Katharine Cornell Theatre on Spring street in Vineyard Haven. The choir is in its ninth year and is the offspring of the Martha’s Vineyard NAACP. The performance is titled, Songs From the Field: The Underground Railroad.
The choir performs at many venues around the Island and is made up of summer residents and year-rounders. They perform sitting down as the slaves did, and only with percussion accompaniment.
On Friday, The Cottagers Inc. of Martha’s Vineyard
sponsor the eighth annual African American Cultural Festival, an event
packed with free educational programs and culture. The festival takes
place in Hartford Park off Massassoit avenue and at Cottagers Corner on
The oral history exhibit African American and Civil Rights Voices in the Gangway Gallery at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum is continually adding new voices. The exhibit, which opened in March of 2007, features photographic portraits and excerpts from interviews conducted by oral historian Linsey Lee with members of the Vineyard’s African American community and individuals involved in the civil rights movement. Three new voices have been recently added. Currently 14 individuals and their stories are included in the exhibit and more will be added in the coming months.