Five Corners in Vineyard Haven was the focus of a public demonstrations Monday afternoon. Over 300 people came out to express their support for Black Lives Matter, No Justice No Peace, and to exhibit a sense of outrage at the senseless killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

The nation has been rocked by yet another murder of a black man at the hands of an indifferent police department and many are searching for ways to protest and express their outrage. But this gathering of black and white Islanders while noisy was also peaceful, displaying a sense of shared community values of respect and mutual support. This was Vineyard strong!

Watching the national news we have seen a very different strategy deployed by “act up“ activist, provocateurs and urban terrorists whose violent acts attacking the police, destroying property and vandalizing businesses threatens to drown out the hue and cry for justice for the Floyd murder and for concomitant resource support for healthcare, food, jobs and housing insecurities, mostly in urban America.

In particular, we have seen Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms perform brilliantly under fire by the violence in her city. Declaring on national television that violence dishonors the legacy of Dr. King and the cities civil rights legacy. Mayor Bottoms is a summer resident of Oak Bluffs and is an active member of The Cottagers, Inc. This one hundred strong powerful women’s organization committed to supporting local community based organizations is led by the indomitable Olivia Baxter. President Baxter asked for continuous prayers and penned a letter of support to Mayor Bottoms saying in part, “Please know that we are so proud of the way in which you have handled the situation in Atlanta, Ga. You have been an effective compassionate leader. Your love for your citizens and the community you serve shows every time you speak in public. May God continue to watch over you and direct your path moving forward.”

We join The Cottagers in wishing Mayor Bottoms the very best and hope that she can join us again this summer.

The business and social thawing authorized by Gov. Charlie Baker has seen gradual and cautious “openings” on Circuit avenue. On Sunday boats occupied about 85 per cent of the slips in Oak Bluffs Harbor. Gio’s Clam Bar has turned what was the lobby window into the order window and the lobby entrance is blocked with a table for pick up. This is the pattern at many of the retail places with a variety of order and pick up designated places.

Many of the restaurants are looking forward to June 8 when Gov. Baker will permit restaurants to open with limited capacity and with protocols to have tables outside. Hopefully, the Arts District on Dukes County avenue will start buzzing around July 4.

The Island is in full swing of hammers and nails, landscape trucks and contractors. In particular, 71 Ocean Park is undergoing a full renovation including wood roof shingles and a variety of Gothic windows that maintain the historic character of the cottage. A few streets away on Narragansett, the Bolling Cottage repairs are underway restoring the damage done from a vicious wind storm a few seasons ago. On Seaview avenue, Val Mosley continues to improve her historic Villa Rosa made famous by Harlemite Joe Overton. Joe hosted and entertained many from the civil rights movement and this cottage was dubbed The Summer White House of the 20th Century. Val has kept that tradition in place with many 21st-century luminaries enjoying her porch facing Nantucket Sound.

Arrival dates have been slowed for many by the virus and other travel constraints. Walter and Cheryle Lowe have not missed Memorial Day in over 25 years but now plan to arrive by July 4. Judy Doss is stuck in Barbados as the government has completely shut down the airport until July 8. Elliott and Shirley Hall recently arrived but had to be pulled away from their new grandson, presented to them by daughter Tiffany and husband John. Shirley and Ed Redd are in the car driving back from Atlanta where their daughter Sara serves as special assistant to Mayor Bottoms. Richard and Carol Washington are back from the Caribbean, television commentators Karen Holmes Ward and Byron Barnett are here as well. Byron, like Leon Wilson, was in a particularly reflective mood. Byron is a native of Minnesota and has many friends and classmates in the storm of the Floyd killing. Leon was on the bench at the Inkwell thinking about the great memories he shared with his sister from Medford who was on the “front line” as a nurse and lost her battle with Covid-19. We send condolences to him and his family.

I lost two friends that played the round ball game with me decades ago. James Smith was my backcourt partner at Richmond Hill High School in Queens. We had the distinction of being the best backcourt tandem in the city from 1963 to 1967. My friend and teammate Heywood Dotson and I joined forces on the Oxford University basketball team in the early 1970’s. Dot was an all-Ivy player and won his Rhodes Scholarship at Columbia University and was good enough to earn a tryout with the Knicks. Both of these men were great athletes, wonderful human beings and made contributions to their communities after sports. They will be missed.

But my spirits have been lifted by sharing Mother’s Day, a birthday and a 48th wedding anniversary with Kathy, all in May. She has truly been a life partner in all respects. Had I followed my father and grandfather by going to Morehouse College in Atlanta, I would have missed this dashing cheerleader from Boston College. What a blessed man I am.

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