The History Makers, founded by Julieanna Richardson and headquartered in Chicago, is a national nonprofit research and educational institution committed to preserving and making widely accessible the untold personal stories of both well known and unsung African Americas. For several years, the History Makers have come to the Vineyard to undertake oral histories of many from the African American community that summer across the Island and provide a robust list of stories.

Last summer, Vernon Jordan spoke at their annual event on the Vineyard welcoming a new class of those joining the History Makers family. This month Ms. Richardson announced a major milestone for her organization. All video oral history interviews are now part of the History Makers Collection at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The value of this collection was underscored by James Billington, the 13th Librarian of Congress when he observed: “This culturally important collection is a rich and diverse resource for scholars, teachers, students and documentarians seeking a more complete record of our nation’s history and its people.”

In February of 2016, then President Barack Obama nominated Dr. Carla Hayden to become the first woman and first African American to become the 14th Librarian of Congress. In nominating her he noted: “Michelle and I have known Carla since her days working at the Chicago Public Library, and her dedication to learning and education is unparalleled.”

Julieanna and Carla forged a relationship to solidify the collection series coming to Washington, DC. Congratulations to these pioneering women and all from the Vineyard that are now firmly ensconced in the annals on American history.

Not far from the Library of Congress is the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Kudos to our own Skip Finley marketing savant, administrator and author who was recently notified that his book, Historic Tales of Oak Bluffs, is being sold in the gift shop at them. On-Island you can get copies at Trader Fred’s. Write on.

Many left the Island last weekend to join Bennie Wiley and Wanda Hinton Brown and their host committee to join the Hon. Dr. Ewart Brown, the former Premier of Bermuda introducing his new book, Whom Shall I Fear: Pushing the Politics of Change. The event was attended by over 100 people at the Cezanne Rooms at the Encore Casino in Everett. The highlight of the evening was the interview of Dr. Brown conducted by former Mayor of Washington, DC. Sharon Pratt. She was intimately familiar with the details of the book covering Brown’s birth in Bermuda, his early education in Jamaica, his matriculation at Howard University and medical school, his very successful medical practice in Los Angeles before he returned to his homeland of Bermuda to serve first as the Minister of Transport before rising to premier. The new book and the new casino was a double draw for those combining culture, education and entertainment. A great time was had by all and we look forward to hearing more about the book next summer when the Browns return to Oak Bluffs.

Thelma Johnson, presient of the Martha’s Vineyard branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History issued her November fall report covering the national conference held this past October in Charleston, S.C. Members attending included Lorna Andrade, Frances Gaskins, Delores Goode, as well as Al and Thelma. Robert Hayden was unable to attend due to illness.

The Vineyard branch showcased 2018 and 2019 events and activities. In addition, Frances and Delores presented their poster pinpointing the activities of the popular Polar Bears and history of the African American presence at the Inkwell Beach entitled, Migration Within a Migration Parts 1 and 2. Thelma also welcomed Donna Johnson to the branch executive committee.

Next week we will celebrate Thanksgiving and family. I wish each of you good health, a joyful time with your loved ones and encourage you to share some of your bounty of food and resources to those less fortunate.

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