African American Heritage to Dedicate New Site

The African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard will dedicate its 27th site on Friday Nov. 24.

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Honoring Our African-American History
Elaine Cawley-Weintraub

The African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard has united communities and augmented the rich fabric of the Island’s history.

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Ceremonies at Shearer Cottage Dedicate Historic Site on African American Trail
Ethan Kelley
Shearer Cottage in Oak Bluffs was the first inn on Martha’s Vineyard, and among the first in the nation, to be owned by and cater to black people. It now has been dedicated to the man for who founded the inn, and is a key stop on the Vineyard’s Heritage Trail.
Named for Charles Shearer, the cottage is the culmination of this man’s journey to prosperity.
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Heritage Trail: Island Project Shows Story of Black History
Yvonne Guzman
In the Waterview Farm area of Oak Bluffs is a boulder as tall as a man. Back in the 1790s, the Rev. John Saunders de­livered his sermons here, from atop “Pulpit Rock.” Mr. Saunders, who was African-American, was one of the first people to preach Methodism on Martha’s Vineyard.
But for anyone who doesn’t know the story, this is just a rock in an Oak Bluffs subdiyision. In fact, many sites, though significant to the Vineyard’s African-American history, sit un­marked.
Today, some Island people want to change that.
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Heritage Trail Honors for Emma Maitland
Alex Floyd

A group of residents and visitors gathered on Dukes County Avenue Sunday to commemorate the life and legacy of Emma Chambers Maitland, a woman of many talents, by marking her home as the 26th site on the African American Heritage Trail.

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New Principal Joins Students for Walk Through Island History
Sydney Bender

The African American Heritage Trail field trip is a staple of the high school's history curriculum. This year, the high school's new principal joined teacher Elaine Weintraub and her freshman students for the tour of Island history.

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Freshmen Projects Bring African American History to Life

Ninth grade history classes at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School produced more than 100 projects as part of the annual African American Heritage Trail history project. The students traveled the trail, interviewed members of the community and created a wide array of work.

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Students Pay Homage by Walking African American Heritage Trail
Elaine Cawley Weintraub

The freshman history classes recently traveled the Island’s African American Heritage Trail from Chappaquiddick to Aquinnah as part of their study of the history of Martha’s Vineyard. They visited the home of the Island’s only whaling captain, walked to his grave, paid their respects at the site dedicated to the life of Rebecca, the Woman from Africa and stood at West Basin visualizing the escape of Randall Burton, the man who had decided he would rather die than return to enslavement.

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Boxing Her Way to Equality and Justice
Elaine Weintraub

The African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard began as part of a promise to a little boy, and in 1998 the Shearer Cottage was dedicated as the first site on the Trail. The ambition was to reach a total of eight sites. That there were many stories was obvious, but the depth and range of the experiences that make up the tapestry of the African American experience on Martha’s Vineyard was amazing. From fugitive preachers to nationally known politicians, all the struggles and triumphs of people of color were part of the story of this Island.

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Talking the Talk, Walking the Walk, That's How History Comes Alive
Sydney Bender

Elaine Weintraub says “history” a lot. The word rolls off her tongue briskly in three sharp syllables: hih-store-ee.

“Welcome to the 16th annual tour of the African American Heritage Trail,” she said last Thursday at the start of this year’s sophomore class field trip. “Here’s your chance of learning some real hih-store-ee.”

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