Abigail McGrath is an Island treasure. She boldly and bravely carries the legacy of her mother, poet Helene Johnson, and her mother’s cousin, the iconic Dorothy West, in all that she does here on the Vineyard. She is prominently known as the founder and inspirational leader of a writers’ residential retreat in Oak Bluffs over the summer. The Renaissance House writers’ sanctuary has provided technical assistance, coaching and time and space to think for scores of writers over the years.

But on this special week of celebrating the birth of our nation she has curated a public reading on the Inkwell Beach of What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?, which was delivered by Frederick Douglass on July 5, 1852 at a meeting sponsored by the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, N.Y. The genius of the McGrath event is that she invites members of the public to read sections of this speech reminding all that there remains unfinished work in achieving the promise of our nation’s founding.

The heroes of this event are those who volunteer to read the 30 sections that Abigail has delineated from the Douglass speech. It allows the reader to identify with the current-day obstacles to justice in a personally liberating way by reading a passage. Thank you Michael Maitland, Carolyn Hunter, Holly Nadler, Niki Patton, Karla Moore, Donoma Fredericson, Carter Borden, Nadine Mazard, Valeria Phillips, Barbara Phillips, Mark Halperin, Isabel Johnston, Tyree Browne and Michael West. Just a few of the readers that speak from Frederick Douglass.

Just a few paces down the beach from the Barmakian jetty, where the reading was taking place, was the Spinola family formerly of Warham, now North Hollywood, enjoying their journey to the Vineyard each summer. This summer they were holding babies Aryans Spinola, seven months, Avery Gomes, four months, and Mila Fontes, six months. Keep the legacy alive!

Lou Sullivan, Jordan Cohen and Bill Kaufmann hosted their second group dialogue this past Saturday at Union Chapel on Keeping Democracy Alive: Understanding What Divides Us and What Binds Us. Speakers included David Blankenhorn, president of Better Angels and Hawk Newsome of Black Lives Matter in New York city. The 50 or so invited guests from all over the Island engaged in vigorous debate and dialogue on Time to Fight, Time to Heal, Depolarizing America and College Campuses and Civil Rights in the 21st Century. What a perfect conversation to have on July 5 as we all pause to celebrate our nation’s past and seek solutions for the future of our democracy.

Rob and Sabrina Williams celebrated Rob’s birthday with traditional hot dogs, hamburgers, spicy ribs, corn on the cob, peas and rice. But there was nothing traditional about their lemon and blueberry cake which was served after budding author Claudette Crouse finished reading excerpts from her new book, When the Closed Heart Opens, Lessons Learned on the Journey of Life. Flash and Bennie Wiley hosted longtime friends from Los Angeles, Larkin and Cynthia Arnold. Flash and Larkin were both active members in the world of entertainment lawyers over the years.

Bijan Bayne was in his glory Saturday night watching a series of terrific basketball games being played on the courts in newly-renovated Niantic Park under the lights with great music in the background. The courts were surrounded by several hundred onlookers as the history of basketball on the Vineyard has taken on a new form for a new generation of ballers. The Battle in the Bluffs has given new life to basketball at this historic park. Bayne wrote his book some years back and chronicled the magic years of 1970 through 1977 when his generation of players took to the courts. He now has a new chapter to contemplate.

Rick Herrick offer parents with young, energetic children from ages four on up the opportunity to join excursions on Sengekontacket Pond each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. There is no charge and those interested should accompany their kids to the Little Bridge in Oak Bluffs by 9:50 a.m. beginning July 13. Sounds like fun.

Paradise on earth is the Vineyard experience. Enjoy it as life is fleeting!

Oak Bluffs news can be sent to rtaylor@mvgazette.com.