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 Pequot avenue.
This year, a special focus is on the Freedom Riders that made history in 1961 when they tried to battle racial segregation in interstate transportation. The festival is a belated 50th anniversary commemoration of the events that took place that summer, including the burning of the Riders’ bus outside of Anniston, Ala., and an attack on the group by more than 1,000 whites in Montgomery.
A Freedom Riders exhibit from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History will run upstairs at Cottager’s Corner on Pequot avenue. And people can hear history straight from the source. Freedom Rider Woollcott Smith, a lifelong summer resident, will be at the festival for a talk with the documentary filmmaker from 6 to 8 p.m. Mr. Smith will share some of his experiences and talk about the future of nonviolent activism.
A series of mini-talks will take place throughout the weekend in Hartford Park. Cottagers and lecturers will discuss topics ranging from the psychology of racism to African American Heritage gardening.
For the more kinesthetic learners, Cottagers Kim Longino and Cheryl Grimes are offering line dancing for teens and adults on Friday morning.
The festival is a family-friendly event. Children will enjoy art with Cottager Nia Rhodes Jackson on Friday afternoon.
The festival in the park runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There will be an African American marketplace and food for sale by Irie Bites. Evening talks take place at Cottager’s Corner, but Hartford Park is the site of the festivities and events unless otherwise noted.