African American History

Dorothy West

An Island Too Small to Be Too Segregated

Henry Louis (Skip) Gates Jr. uses the quiet entrance, through the corridors of the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School to a backstage area of the performing arts center, no doubt the sort of precaution he regularly takes since his arrest and high profile beer with the President last month.

But as he enters, he bellows with a theatrical gesture of his walking cane in the direction of his friend and legal counsel, Charles J. Ogletree Jr., the man he calls Tree.

henry louis gates

After Beer, Skip Gates Offers Substance

Nobel prize-winning economist Robert Solow had the overflow crowd roaring with laughter from the very start of his introduction of Henry Louis Gates Jr. at the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival on Sunday.

“It’s not often,” he deadpanned, “that you get the chance to introduce a deserving but obscure scholar . . . .”

And people say Americans don’t understand irony.

In Search of Our Roots

Finding in Science What Slave Trade Had Erased, Stories Grow from Roots

IN SEARCH OF OUR ROOTS: How 19 Extraordinary Americans Reclaimed Their Past. By Henry Louis Gates Jr. Crown. January, 2009. 424 pages. $27.50.

The Only Ones Are Not Everyone

In early October 2008 I was invited to Chicago to sit in the Family and Friends Tent in Bryant Park and witness the possible election of our nation’s 44th President, Barack Hussein Obama.


Inauguration Day 2009: Island Pauses To Witness History in Washington

The last time a new president was sworn in the only Vineyard party to make the news was an anti-inaugural street march complete with protest placards and a theme song.

Election Day 2008: Vineyard Backs Obama All the Way

Vineyard voters came down decisively on the winning side of history on Tuesday, turning out in record numbers to help elect America’s first black President.


Dorothy West’s Highlands Home is Landmark on Heritage Trail

Longtime friends and followers of the late Dorothy West gathered on Saturday afternoon in the shade on a hot August day to pay tribute to the writer, who was the last surviving member of the Harlem renaissance, and to share memories.

Treasure Buried Under Decades of Dust; Denniston Treasures Go to Museum

Linsey Lee emerged from what was once the Vineyard’s first African American church last week peeling a respirator from her face. By her count, she had spent more than 150 hours in the Bradley Memorial Church in Oak Bluffs, and the mask stood as a shield between her and decades of dust.


Black-Owned Businesses Dwindle on Island

Black-owned businesses on Martha’s Vineyard span its economic and cultural niches while catering to a general audience. They are inns, art galleries, boutiques and restaurants as well as service providers from real estate to holistic weight loss. But many African American business owners, year-rounders, vacationers and community leaders agree that, given the Island’s history and large African American summer population, there are not nearly enough black-owned businesses based here.


Denniston House Once Served as Spiritual, Educational Center

It may be hard to tell now, but there was a time when the Bradley Memorial Church was arguably the spiritual and social center of Oak Bluffs.