Those of us on the Vineyard are well aware of the role that our beloved Charlayne Hunter-Gault has played in trying to make America become what it says it is. And that is that “all men and women are created equal.” 

She was confronted with a different reality in 1961 when she attempted to integrate the University of Georgia with another Black student, Hamilton Holmes. It took a court order and a police escort to secure her rightful place in her class. Since those traumatic days, she has had a brilliant career in journalism. She has won Emmy and Peabody awards, worked on the PBS Newshour, served as African correspondent for NPR and CNN and the first Harlem bureau chief for the New York Times.

And, locally, she serves as the perennial moderator for Harvard’s Hutchins Institute for African & African American Research forum held every August and curated by Prof. Skip Gates. 

Most recently, thousands have signed a petition to change the name of the University of Georgia Journalism & Mass Communication school from Henry Grady to the Gault School. It seems that Grady was a staunch segregationist and gave a speech in 1886 entitled the “New South” where he asserted “the supremacy of the white race of the South must be maintained forever and the domination of the negro race resisted at all points and at all hazards.” 

Well, it sounds like the “Old South” to me. Let’s all rally around this initiative by supporting this name change in honor of our Oak Bluffs icon and history maker! 

Speaking of the Deep South, Sarah Brown has brought her southern cooking and culinary skills to Circuit ave. Learning to cook for eight of her siblings and working for her father in North Augusta, S.C., she made her way eventually to Long Island, N.Y. After cooking for several white families, she and her husband decided to open their own business and eventually purchased their first commercial building in Uniondale, Long Island. 

Her son, Kenneth Brown, came to the Vineyard a few years ago to attend the Syracuse Black Alumni Reunion and vowed that he would return with his mother’s brand. True to his word, the family has opened Sarah Brown’s restaurant serving lunch and dinner on Circuit avenue, just a few doors from Roger’s C’est La Vie. The menu sounds inviting with chicken, grapes and wine as well as fried chicken and potato salad, pan-fried whiting, Oak Bluffs brisket and a bevy of side dishes. Welcome back to the Vineyard, Ken and the Brown family. 

In an effort to help spur business for the local shops, Circuit ave has been closed to automobile traffic on Sundays. Come on out to buy local and help our businesses who are in recovery from tremendous revenue losses given the Covid-19 shutdown. 

The trustees of Union Chapel mourn the passing of long-serving trustee, Robyn Nash, who fought off cancer for many years. She recently transitioned but has left so many fond memories. Graveside services will be held at 5 p.m., July 5 at Oak Grove Cemetery. Come share with her family. 

The Island Food Pantry has worked hard to mitigate food insecurity on the Vineyard that has been exacerbated by the economic impact of Covid-19. The public demand for food has increased from 12,000 pounds of food in early March to 56,000 pounds in May and June. 

No wonder Rosemary Chalk from their development committee was effusive in her praise of The Cottagers, Inc. who recently announced that they will be contributing $5,000 to the IFP. This $5,000 was to meet the challenge grant offered by Union Chapel in honor of trustees Rev. John Schule and longtime Cottager Mildred Henderson. 

Upon hearing about the challenge grant, Cottagers president Olivia Baxter assembled her contributions committee, chaired by Karen Cole, to explore how they could be helpful. This powerful African-American women’s group, standing 100 strong, represents a cross-section of professional leaders from all corners of this nation.  

Union Chapel will be streaming their 2020 summer chapel services. Please go to for the ways you can catch the service on July 5. The Sunday closest to Independence Day is always reserved for a lay speaker discussing the state of the American democracy. This Sunday come learn about the relationship between Covid-19 and Covid-1619! 

This Independence Day requires a special focus for our country. On the one hand, we can frame this holiday around the Declaration of Independence but, in 2020, we must pause at our struggle to balance so many inequalities across many sectors of American life. My family will miss the Campground’s kids parade this year but hope to enjoy this tradition in 2021. 

I am finding comfort in our first amendment right to assemble freely and the right to protest. To be sure, we are not a perfect union but this new, young generation is taking to the streets to help strengthen our national will to be what we say we are.

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