The end of January and February is an exciting time for those who measure the progress of diversity and inclusion in our nation as we collectively strive toward a more perfect union. Individuals, organizations and institutions host forums, breakfast gatherings, lunches, black tie galas, oratory events, musical concerts and more celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as the stand alone Black History Month of February.

King would have been 90 this year and I can recall stories of his visit to the Vila Rose Cottage during the heyday of the civil rights movement when Joey Overton owned the property. The cottage, now owned by Valerie Mosley on Narragansett avenue, was next door to the Bolling Cottage. Sen. Royal Bolling, Sr. also shared time with Dr. King during those days. Royal recalls that he looked out of his window responding to the laughs of little children in the adjourning yard and saw his fellow fraternity brother Martin playing with his children. They reminisced about King’s days at Boston University where they became friends. The city of Boston led by Mayor Marty Walsh and software entrepreneur Paul English are working on a lasting memorial to be constructed in Boston dedicated to both Martin and his wife Coretta. The total cost of the memorial is estimated at $5 million dollars and on King Day this year, Boston University announced they will contribute $250,000 toward the project.

King Day merges into the February celebration of Black History month. The League of Women Voters of Martha’s Vineyard along with the local chapters of the NAACP, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and the Black History Month Collaborative Education Program are hosting a public event at the Oak bluffs Library on Saturday, Feb. 2 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. League members Lorna Andrade and Marie Araujo are chairing this event. Guest speaker will be Oak Bluffs resident Dr. Walter Collier, author of Why Racism Persists, An Uncomfortable Truth. Broad public participation is encouraged.

The local Island ASALH belongs to the national organization that established Black History Month in 1915. Dr. Carter G. Woodson attended an event in Chicago that year celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Inspired by this three-week event he decided to form an organization to promote the scientific study of Black life and history while still in Chicago. And so he called together a gathering at the Wabash YMCA with four others and formed the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. February was the month of choice because it is the month in which both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass celebrate their birthdays.

Margaret Penicaud announces that the Parish of the Good Shepherd invites all to a free movie and dinner on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 5:30 p.m. St. Augustine Church Hall in Vineyard Haven will be the venue for the spaghetti dinner and the documentary film, Apparition Hill. Please sign up by contacting Carmen at 508-693-2797.

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