The inaugural program to celebrate the first national holiday of Juneteenth on the Vineyard kicked off at Union Chapel on Friday night with a movie titled Jubilee, Juneteenth and the Thirteenth. This was a great start for a fast-paced weekend of eclectic celebrations filling the Island with history, applause and unfinished work for equality.

Karen Holmes Ward — television host and producer of programs like City Line in Boston — hosted a talkback about the film with Dr. Kerri Greenidge, professor of race, colonialism and diaspora at Tufts University, along with Sylvia Stevens-Edouard, the board chair of the Museum of African American History on Beacon Hill. The film documents the influential but often overlooked role that African Americans and others in Boston and Massachusetts played in the events that led to the abolition of slavery in the United States. The discussion with these experts connected the dots between the Civil War and how it led to the Emancipation Proclamation and its compounded impact on ending slavery and the subsequent passing of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.

The excellent panel discussion provided food for the mind after which the amazing voice of Grace Gibson, singing Grammy giant Kirk Franklin’s spiritual Take Me to the King, stirred the soul.

Walking over to the Creative Festival program at the Tabernacle on Saturday, I stopped by both the vendors market at Washington Park and the annual Harbor Fest. The shopping and passing crowds almost merged in this colony of local and regional entrepreneurs offering a cornucopia of clothes, sweets, Caribbean grilled plates, pottery, jewelry, candles and more. At the corner where Nancy’s is located, the Jelly Roll Horns belted out songs with a strong brass pitch so inviting that heads were nodding, feet were tapping and bodies were shaking. A glorious time on the Oak Bluffs harbor.

At the Tabernacle, Kahina Van Dyke hosted a roundtable conversation with Andrew Patch, Elaine Weintraub and Arthur Hardy-Doubleday sharing their perspectives on the current state of equity and progress on the Island. Arthur, president of the local NAACP branch, lamented the difficulty in getting the Oak Bluffs leadership to permit the flying of the Juneteenth flag.

All of this set the table for a national conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and educator Nikole Hannah-Jones, of 1619 Project fame. She spoke adroitly over a wide range of topics but spoke with particular conviction while responding to a question from the audience. The question implied that only Republicans were racist or lacked an understanding of the issues of equity and justice. Professor Hannah-Jones stated emphatically that she spends most of her time convincing progressives that they must do more than just put a Black Lives Matter sign on their front lawn. That many of the so-called liberals are fine unless you want to put affordable housing in their neighborhoods. Actress Lynn Whitfield performed a series of dramatic readings and ended with a wonderful piece from James Baldwin.

My last event was the dedication of the Dunmere House as the thirty-fourth site of the expanding Martha’s Vineyard African American Heritage Trail. The presentation was made by Professor Fallon Samuels Aidoo, who is a consultant to Elaine Weintraub and the trail team. More than 50 people who attended heard the history of Dunmere as one of the properties listed in the Green Book — which identified safe and hospitable places for black travelers to find overnight accommodations — in the early 1900s. The property was originally on Circuit avenue but was eventually moved to its present location on Pennacook avenue.

This past week combined Father’s Day, a slice of Pride Month, and Juneteenth! What a glorious start to the summer season on the Vineyard!

Commendations to the Vineyard Gazette Media Group and Inkwell Haven for organizing a spectacular Junteenth weekend and to Kharma Finley-Wallace for managing the operations for many of the events. This innovative planning served to showcase many local businesses and to frame conversations on the history of post-slavery America. It is now forever engraved into the arc of historical events established in Oak Bluffs. Many await the announcement of the 2023 Juneteenth program!

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