Annette Gordon-Reed — a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Carl M. Loeb university professor at Harvard and native Texan — has written a wonderful book titled On Juneteenth. She not only explores some amazing history on the Juneteenth holiday itself but she analyzes the history of Texas as it shares a border with Mexico and the relationship between whites, Blacks, Tejanos and Native Americans. A must-read as we celebrate this historic of holidays.

The Civil War had been over since April 9, 1865 when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant. But it was not until June 19, 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger descended on Texas to provide the order that freed all slaves in Texas. Henceforth from that date, the war was completely ended. This “final end” to the Civil War has been celebrated first in Texas and now in many parts of the country.

It has been a national holiday since 2021 and has taken firm roots on the Vineyard, to the delight of many Islanders and visitors.

Celebrating Juneteenth on the Vineyard last year was the beginning of a new tradition. The brainchild of Kahina Van Dyke, Skip Finley and the Vineyard Gazette Media Group, Juneteenth Jubilee promises to be even more powerful this year. The official Juneteenth Jubilee Program of Events produced by the Vineyard Gazette Media Group is not only a guide for that weekend but an historic keepsake for friends and family.

Significantly, this year the theme is Free As The Wind: Honoring Maritime Escapes from Enslavement. In that spirit the freedom schooner Amistad will be docked at Tisbury Wharf. A ship tour could be meaningful to folks of all ages. The history of the Amistad revolt by a group of enslaved Africans when the ship sailed from Sierra Leone is part of the struggle for human rights, even on vessels at seas, that resulted in a landmark case in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Some of the early festivities include a special screening of the first episode of the 1619 Project documentary based upon Pulitzer Prize winner Nicole Hanna Jones’s landmark 1619 Project. The screening will be held at Union Chapel starting at 5 on Friday, June 16. Events over the weekend will be held at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, Edgartown Public Library, Trinity Park Tabernacle, Edgartown Yacht Club, the Portuguese American Club, Oak Bluffs Library and more.

I hope you can stop by the Portuguese American Club on Vineyard avenue on Sunday, June 18 at 6 p.m. to support the NAACP of Martha’s Vineyard’s Taste of Juneteenth and sample a showcase of culinary delights from local BIPOC chefs.

On Sunday, June 18 at 10 a.m., Rev. Michael Eric Dyson will preach at Union Chapel. He has been an Island favorite for years at public forums and book signings; this is his first time in the pulpit.

The HistoryMakers, led by the pioneering Julieanna Richardson, will grace the Island from June 12 through 20 with several events open to the public, including an interview with Captain Bill Pinkney, who served as the first master of the replica of the Amistad.

Those visiting the newly-refurbished Flying Horses will be pleasantly surprised by the renovations underway at the shops adjacent to the carousel. This construction will complete the final restoration of this physical focal point for Oak Bluffs.

Many thanks to the local public works department for spraying new yellow lines down the middle of Temahigan and New York avenues, providing a safe and clear road demarcation leading into the Oak Bluffs harbor.

Opening up cottages for the season is a lot of work: getting the water on, lawns spruced up, flowers planted, porch, deck and trim painted and sometimes shingle replacements. Soldier through these tasks as joy, relaxation and fun begins Juneteenth weekend!

Paradise on earth is living the Vineyard experience. Enjoy it as life is fleeting! Randall Edward Taylor, rest in peace.