For many, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is always a time of national reflection given the movement that he led to make our nation a more perfect union. And so it is with two special Oak Bluffs denizens, Marie Allen and Harry Seymour.

Marie is walking history. Before settling full time on the Island she served for many years on the Board of the Boston branch of the NAACP, having played an integral role in two national conventions hosted by the Boston branch. On the Island she has been active on the board of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and served as President of the Vineyard branch of the NAACP, held appointed office in the town and is a devotee of human rights and good government. Marie sent out a letter entitled “What his message might be today,” in reference to Dr. King. She wrote, “We still have deep ethnic, religious and racial prejudices in every community in America. In light of the recent horrific anti- Semitic and racial rants, Dr. King would ask us to examine our own prejudices and to ask what that tells us about ourselves, and what it means, and how it affects our children.”

Harry Seymour is a year-round Island resident who retired as a tenured professor from UMass Amherst and now paints in his studio in Vineyard Hills every day. One of his paintings is a portrait of Malcolm X, President Obama and Dr. King, representing three historic figures that challenged America in different ways to live up to the principle that all are created equal. Obama’s election is in part a culmination of the push and shove that Malcolm and Martin gave our nation. Harry published a poem explaining the nexus between these three giants:

Martin Luther King Day honors a civil rights legacy

He would be ninety were not for an assassins depravity

Arguably the most preeminent civil rights leader, loved and admired for his bravery

My painting, “ Leadership,“ honors three American heroes for their distinct ability

All brilliant leaders with Martin among the highest of stars in the galaxy

He, the integrationist, provided Malcolm, the separatist, a form of adversarial credibility

Obama may never have been President if not for seeds planted in Martin’s gardenry

Now archival, Martin’s legacy is for the ages and will continue to soar into infinity

Martha’s Vineyard is a beacon of equality that offers lessons for a world looking for human harmony. I think of the tremendous collective effort made by the new MV Museum board and leadership to integrate the board and include exhibits on the history of all ethnic groups that comprise our special Island. All have praised the broad diversity of the exhibits, book store offerings and special events held on the Museum grounds. I think of the integrated audiences that join hearts and minds at Union Chapel throughout the summer. The generations of property ownership by African Americans free of structural discrimination around the purchase of land which is celebrated in the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the nation’s capitol. The recent purchase of property by the Obama family punctuates the continuity of a living environment of people and places on the Vineyard attractive to many from different backgrounds. We are not perfect but we have a lot to be proud of. The Kings enjoyed Oak Bluffs as guests of Joe Overton at Villa Rose during the civil rights days.

The sun setting over Waban Park hangs heavy since Jan. 13 when Harriette Clark Evans transitioned to join her husband the Rev. Dr. Joseph H. Evans in heaven. Their marriage of 64 years brought forth the very smart and very stylish Evans sisters, Leslie, Harriett and Barbara. These fashionable sisters held court on Nantucket avenue for decades growing up in summers with the Finleys, the Slaughters, the Haylings, the Popes and so many more in the Age of Brooke.

Harriette graduated from historic Dunbar High School before heading out to the University of Wisconsin. Since 1952 she spent every summer at the family cottage. She joined Helen Brooke, Dorothy West, Liz White and others as a founding member of The Cottagers, Inc.

Daughter Barbara has kept the family name visible over the decades by organizing and curating major social and business events, weddings and corporate outings on the Island with her business under the banner of Edelin Events. The family cottage is now full of joy and youthful activity as Mrs. Evans leaves six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren to cherish her memory of faith and service to her community.

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