Fletcher (Flash) Wiley has played basketball, golf and card games for many decade on the Vineyard. His jovial self-proclaimed “world’s best 75-year old basketball player” nickname belies the recent recognition that he received from his undergraduate alma mater, the U.S. Air Force Academy. A 1965 graduate, he was recently inducted with the Distinguished Graduate Award, along with four other fellow alums. But his history was different. Flash was just the fifth African American to graduate from this military institution. He would go on to earn a Fulbright scholarship to study in Paris, followed by a stint in the Pentagon and Korea. After his military service, he enrolled at Harvard University and completed both his law degree and a masters in public policy from the Kennedy School.

He practiced law, worked as a senior partner in a major business firm, founded the Crispus Attucks Children’s Center in Dorchester, served as chair of the board of the Boston Chamber of Commerce and served on several corporate boards. Holding to the criteria for being selected, Flash has set himself apart by making extraordinarily significant contributions to his community. His wife Bennie and children BJ and Pratt are thrilled that he is being recognized.

Arthur Hardy-Doubleday, president of the Martha’s Vineyard branch of the NAACP, reports that the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network has recognized the life story of Esther. On July 27, 1743, Esther was being transported from Boston to North Carolina and while the sloop Endeavor was docked overnight in Edgartown harbor, she managed to escape. She jumped overboard and swam to freedom. Memorial Wharf will be officially dedicated and will become part of the African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard. Congrats to all who championed the story of Esther so that it will be forever noted in the history books.

The Mariposa Museum on Circuit ave. continues to do a masterful job in curating art, sculpture and history. You will not want to miss the 15 pieces of art by Imo Nse Imeh, who is a scholar of African diaspora art. He has made contributions to visual arts discourse with publications and lectures. His artwork focuses on the ways in which black bodies are imagined, installed, ritualized, and transformed. Dr. Imeh received his doctorate in art history from Yale University and he is an associate professor of art and art history at Westfield State University. Stop by.

Many are buzzing about a photo of Zita Cousens, Ann Smith and Valerie Frances that was taken recently in the courtyard of the Cousen Rose Gallery. The significance of this historic photo is that it recognizes three African-American women who own and manage art galleries in Oak Bluffs. Zita and Ann have deep roots in the art world and have welcomed newcomer Valerie, who purchased Knowhere Gallery on both Circuit ave. and Dukes County Road. Stop by and get to know these talented entrepreneurs; they have much wisdom to offer.

Sadness has hit the friends and neighbors of Ann and Leon Haley of Meadow View Farms as they all mourn the loss of their son, Dr. Leon Haley Jr. He was the CEO of UF Health in Jacksonville, Fla. and a leading figure in the city’s fight against Covid. Dr. Haley was out on his jet ski, wearing a life safety vest, when it veered out of control and hit a embankment. Services will be held in Pittsburgh on Saturday, July 31.

Nashawena Park lost a very bright light with the passing of Dr. Steve Freeman. He will join his good friend Dr. Les Hayling on the beaches of heaven.

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