Joe Vera of Oak Bluffs made a career of defending the rights of minorities and women. Born in New Bedford on July 14, 1928 he was educated at the Fessenden School in Newton, Phillips Exeter and received his AB degree from Harvard. He earned a Juris Doctor from Boston University where he led the BU Law Review, and a Master of Laws from Georgetown. Among his many achievements—in addition to being an attorney—he was a legislative assistant in Congress, a director of fair housing for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and a commissioner for the Cambridge Human Rights Commission. His family is from the Azores (Pico) and his grandfather Frank and grand-Uncle Joseph (spelled Vieira) were in the whaling business in New Bedford.

Joe Vera’s father Frank was also a lawyer, who became Judge Frank Vera of New Bedford. Joe once represented a plumber on Circuit avenue accused of setting fire to his business. Although possibly guilty, he was acquitted. In Oak Bluffs, where irony is commonplace, the judge happened to have been the prosecuting attorney in the only other arson case 50 years before—that was also acquitted. Joe’s father Frank was the defense attorney on that case.

Joe Vera had a bench made with a plaque honoring Judge Frank Vera and his mother, Madeline Sequeira Vera over in Park Park (yes that is the correct name) on Pennacook avenue.

Annis Freeman’s granddaughter Sydney Freeman, a junior at the University of Richmond, participated in a White House Internship Program from January to May and was assigned to First Lady Michelle Obama. Her administrative tasks included responding to constituents and assisting with speeches. She also helped out at events where the First Lady spoke. Sydney’s interest in politics comes from her late great aunt, Senator Verda Freeman Welcome of Maryland, who was the first African American female state senator in the nation.

At the Tabernacle on Friday at noon, Black Lion presents a free jazz concert for kids entitled Who Is Billie Holiday at 100. At 6 p.m. there will be a full concert with prices ranging from $10 to $50.

Pequot avenue’s Asha Rhodes-Mead announced a Williams College Black Alumni reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday at Cottagers Corner.

There is a reception and book signing for Dr. Beny Primm’s new book, The Healer, at Cousen Rose Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m.

At the Potters Bowl at Featherstone on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. you can make a bowl to be filled by homemade soup. There will also be drinks, desserts and music. Call 508-697-0603 for information.

Sunday evening, August 23, is when the Martha’s Vineyard Museum closes the much visited and talked about Lois Mailou Jones exhibit of privately owned work by the famed Harlem Renaissance artist.

Many thanks to Black Entertainment Television (BET) and Centric whose generous contributions have made the Oak Bluffs Annual Fireworks possible for the last several years. Their annual gala at Lola’s has been absorbed by Uptown Magazine which issued a special interactive web site in its honor this year and who, with Centric, teamed up with the Martha’s Vineyard Comedy Fest for its fifth year.

Roger and Myrna Morris hosted a gathering for Kenneth P. Thompson, the rising Brooklyn political star who became the first black district attorney in the New York Area. He was here with his family for the second time and looks forward to many more visits.

In 2014 the Louis Sullivan race raised $65,000 and on Saturday, August 22, sponsor Martha’s Vineyard Hospital hopes to beat that at the 27th Annual Sullivan 5K Run/Walk. The kids’ Fun Run starts at 8:45 a.m. followed by the walkers at 9 a.m. Runners begin at 9:30 a.m. I think I’d bet on Joe Vera winning the 80-year old group.

Keep your foot on a rock.

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