Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King were honored on Jan. 13 with the unveiling of the much talked-about Embrace sculpture on the Boston Common. They met in Boston while students at Boston University School of Theology and the New England Conservatory of Music, respectively. The concept of the Embrace has many metaphors including the profound love between Martin and Coretta, and the commitment to the civil rights movement by so many who have sacrificed their careers, their families, their lives and more.

The Kings visited Oak Bluffs during the civil rights days and stayed at historic Villa Rose, on Seaview avenue, when it was owned by Joe Overton .

More than 1,000 people turned out on an unseasonably 50-degree day to witness the unveiling of the magnificent bronze structure standing 20 feet tall and 25 feet wide that was created by Hank Willis Thomas. The Embrace is sited within a circular plaza dubbed the 1965 Freedom Plaza. It contains the names of 65 civil rights and social justice leaders active in greater Boston from 1950 to 1975. Dr. King himself stood on the Boston Common on April 23, 1965 in front of a crowd of 22,000 people, calling for Boston to live up to its highest ideals. A survey of the names, not surprisingly, includes those who have an enduring connection to Oak Bluffs and Martha’s Vineyard.

Judge Herbie Tucker’s life is truly a struggle against racism and segregation in his own Boston. Working as a Red Cap at South Station and at the IRS, even with his law degree professional work as a lawyer for a black man was hard to come by. He eventually joined with Antonio Cardozo to form what many believe was the first modern black law firm in Boston.

Widely credited for helping the Boston Red Sox integrate their team, Mr. Tucker mounted continuing pressure on the team to join the rest of Major League Baseball. The team finally hired Elijah (Pumpsie) Green and Earl Wilson in 1959. He served as president of the Boston branch of the NAACP from 1956 to 1960 and during the same period became the grand basileus — national president — of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Mr. Tucker was appointed by President John F. Kennedy as his special representative to the African nation of Gabon at their celebration of its first anniversary of independence.

His judicial career started in 1973 when he was appointed a special judge to the municipal court in Dorchester. He would eventually become the presiding court judge in Edgartown district court from 1979 to 1985. A plaque was affixed to the courthouse in 2018, noting his long fight for fairness and justice by calling him a “civic leader, ambassador and activist.“

Herbie and his wife Mary Hill Tucker were active in many corners of the Vineyard with their cottage near School street as their base. Grace Church, the Oak Bluffs Tennis Club and the Mary Tucker Invitational Tournament served to display their friendship to many people and their love of Martha’s Vineyard.

The Bolling cottage on Narraganset avenue was called Cheaper by the Dozen. If numbers mean influence, the Bollings win again with not one but three names of the 65 names on Freedom Plaza. What unparalleled distinction.

In 1973 Royal Bolling Jr. became the youngest person ever elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he joined his father in that legislative body. Subsequently, Royal’ Jr.’s brother Bruce would be elected to the Boston city council and Royal Bolling Sr. would join the state senate. In 1983, the Bollings gained national recognition as the first elected father- and- sons trio to serve in three different legislative bodies.

The impact that each one has had on serving the public is voluminous. Bruce became the first Black president of the Boston city council and authored the city’s linkage ordinance, providing millions of dollars for affordable housing. Royal Jr. served for 14 years and sponsored significant legislation on fair lending and fair bank practices. The Bolling family patriarch served 20 years in the legislature and is most prominently known for filing the Racial Imbalance Act to desegregate the Massachusetts public schools.

The Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury’s Nubian Square is a visible, physical symbol of the respect and appreciation that the public has for this most celebrated of Boston political families.

Sen. Edward Brooke made history by being elected as the first Black state attorney general in the United States. He made history again when elected to the U.S. Senate in 1966. He was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to the President’s Commission on Civil Disorders, fought Richard Nixon’s segregated nominations to the Supreme Court and co-wrote the Civil Rights Act of 1968 that prohibited housing discrimination. He also worked closely with his friend Bill Coleman — the U.S. Secretary of Transportation — to stop Interstate 95 from cutting through Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. And he was the first Republican in the Senate to call for President Nixon to resign in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

The Age of Brooke was built on Black institutions such as Dunbar High School, Howard University, The Cottagers and the Oak Bluffs Tennis Club. During this period families came to the Island for the summer, with the mothers and children frequenting the beach and other activities as described by Jill Nelson: “Here, Mommies took painting classes and seriously worked on their art. Read all the books they’d had no time for during the winter; played tennis twice a day.”

Ed Brooke, Herbie Tucker and the Bolling trio have brought honor to their families, the communities that they served and Martha’s Vineyard, where they refreshed their minds and bodies to continue the fight for equality and social justice.

The Consort Club is a men’s social club that has sponsored a New Year’s eve celebration at the famed Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. for the past 70 years. Oak Bluffs residents Ed Gray, Kenneth Edmonds and Steven Smith are members of the club and looked fabulous in formal tails while leading the celebration. Decorations in the ceiling, on the tables and on the bandstand made this event festive and dynamic from the 9 p.m. start to the end of the evening.

One distinguishing feature of this event is that it is truly a family affair: children of the attendees come down from the hotel rooms and join the festivities at midnight. Family dancing and greetings cap a special night. Elliot and Shirley Hall, Cliff and Marion Grayer, Corbett and Chrystie Price, and Nick Jordan were some of the Vineyard residents in attendance at the fete. Sylvester Booker, Reggie Brown, Michael Melton and Andre Wells are Consorts who also frequent the Vineyard.

Several days after the Consorts party, Reggie and Rev. Aliya Browne, Rev. Cathlin Baker, among others, attended the swearing-in of Senator Raphael Warnock. A Vineyard favorite for years, many consider him family. Hakim Jeffries, the new leader of the Democratic House of Representatives, was hosted this past August at the Edmonds cottage on New York avenue. Plans are in the works for his return. Wes Moore, the newly-elected governor of Maryland, has joined us in Oak Bluffs the past two summers and is also organizing now for next August. Stay tuned.

Kahina Van Dyke has been hosting meetings for the past two months, planning an exciting Juneteenth Jubilee celebration for 2023.

Blessings, love and hope for those that might be dispirited for 2023.

Paradise is living the Vineyard experience. Enjoy it as life is fleeting. Randall Edward Taylor, RIP.