The Union Chapel Educational & Cultural Institute has named its public forum series after Charles Ogletree, a noted professor, constitutional scholar, activist, author and Island favorite. Charles’s early practice took him to the District of Columbia public defender’s office. He would later represent many notable figures but gained national prominence when he represented Anita Hill as she testified in the Senate hearings against the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. He appeared on many television shows such as Nightline, This Week with David Brinkley, the MacNeil/Lehrer Report and many more.

On the Vineyard he hosted a meet and greet for his friend, then-President Barack Obama, under a tent in his backyard during the summer before Obama began his campaign for a second term as president. This gathering of about 75 people was evidence of their close bond.

In 2005, Charles launched the Charles Hamilton Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard University. Ogletree and Harvard were paying homage to the brilliant litigator who crafted the legal strategy to attack discrimination leading to legal victories at the Supreme Court in the Shelley v. Kraemer case (1948) and the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case (1954). Under Charles’s leadership, the institute hosted annual public forums at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School every summer. These forums attracted national speakers from the entertainment, academic, cultural and legal sectors of society, packing in attendees for the programs.

Upon hearing that the public forums will be named after her husband, Pam Ogletree said, ”Wow! This is extraordinary! This sounds like a powerful series! I can’t thank all of you enough for all that you have done to make this series a reality and for naming it after Charles. We miss being on the Vineyard but our spirits are soaring, knowing that Charles has not been forgotten.”

The first public forum this summer will be held at 4 p.m. on August 4. It is titled Telling Our Stories: Perspectives from Blacks in the Media. Panelists include Kimbriell Kelly, Washington bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times; Kimberly Atkins Stohr, senior opinion writer and columnist for the Boston Globe; Michael Holly, the NBC sports commentator and best-selling author; and Kelle Rozell, chief marketing and storytelling officer for Color of Change.

These dynamic panelists will address issues as newsroom coverage, national and local reporting, the Black lens on reporting, and more. This is a rare opportunity to converse with leading media executives.

The panel was organized with the cooperation of the Boston University Black Alumni Leadership Council and the Boston University Alumni Association. Special thanks to Union Chapel Institute board member Karen Holmes Ward and Susan Richardson, the executive director for alumni relations at Boston University.

Cheryl Wesley is the coordinator of the fifth annual HBCU Legacy Week on the Vineyard from July 24 to July 30. This Vineyard standard is created to engage, empower and highlight the bond and value of the alumni and students from all historically Black colleges and Universities. All are welcome!

A Def Poetry Reunion will be held on Saturday, July 30 at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center. The program will start at 6:30 p.m. The evening of artistry was curated by Danny Simmons and features the original cast of HBO’s Def Poetry. It includes accomplished poets such as Emmy, Tony and Peabody Award winner Black Ice, Ursula Rucker, Jessica Care Moore, Kayo Charles and Elisabet Vasquez.

The event is coming to the Vineyard in support of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation and the Mariposa Museum.

Knowhere Art Gallery owners Ralph Groce and Valerie Francis have opened their dual gallery locations for the season on Circuit avenue and Dukes County Road. All are welcome.

Georgia On My Mind — a 1930 song written by Hoagie Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell — was made popular by Georgia native Ray Charles in his 1960 album The Genius Hits the Road. In a few weeks, it will be an active theme all over the Island. Both Stacey Abrams and Raphael Warnock will be bringing their Georgia campaigns for governor and senator respectively, back to the Vineyard during the first week of August. Stay tuned for details.

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