Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As frequent visitors to this magnificent Island for the past 40 years, my husband and I thought we knew just about all there was to know about Martha’s Vineyard history and culture. We were wrong! Last weekend, we decided to take an African-American history tour with Robert Hayden, an Oak Bluffs resident for over 40 years. The experience was utterly fascinating; we were captivated from the very start of this tour, which lasted an hour longer than we had been told.

Mr. Hayden is not only a highly-knowledgeable historian and a well-known scholar, but a storyteller extraordinaire. By means of exhaustive interviews with countless Island residents, many of them descendants or friends of important figures in Island history, he has gleaned interesting facts and legends about this vital segment of the Island population. He taught us about such figures as Cong. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., former U.S. Sen. Edward Brooke, author Dorothy West, and the many unknown, highly-skilled African-American carpenters, who, it is surmised, contributed to the building of some of the cottages in the Camp Ground. Mr. Hayden had interesting and revealing stories to tell about them all. It was an honor to learn of the many contributions blacks have made to the Island’s culture and economy and to walk through some of the areas where they lived.

Take this tour!

Jill Rifkin

Delmar, N.Y.