African American History

Forum on Race Relations Draws Full-House Crowd Into Old Whaling Church

With whispers that a hundred more were waiting outside, they filled the hall, charged with the anticipation of hearing the charismatic new voice of the Democratic Party, United States Senatorial candidate from Illinois, Barack Obama, and listening as a panel of luminaries offered their views on Brown vs. Board of Education: Mission Accomplished?

Old Cemetery Suggests Keys To Island Past

Hidden under scrub oak, among beer bottles, rusty lobster pots and piles of clam shells is a cemetery of forgotten souls. Only a few stones still remain, one which marks the death of young man who died at sea and was buried here along the Lagoon Pond marsh. 
 

Author Dorothy West Is Celebrated at 90

Dorothy West, the great African-American writer who turned 90 this summer, was the guest of honor at a spectacular birthday party Friday afternoon inside the Union Chapel. Well over 500 people gathered, including First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
 
Miss West, a 50-year resident of Oak Bluffs, is the author of many short stories and two novels, and she is the sole remaining member of the Harlem Renaissance.

Panel on Race Defines Issues

The opinions were as varied as they were emphatic: There have been great opportunities lost in the area of civil rights. Poverty affects 43 per cent of all black children in the United States, the same proportion as it did the year Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Still, African-American people are better off than ever before, and a recent poll showed that most are, in fact, content.
 

Ceremonies at Shearer Cottage Dedicate Historic Site on African American Trail

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.
 
Charles Shearer was born into slavery in Virginia. During the Civil War he assisted Union soldiers as a hunter, and in turn received his freedom.

Heritage Trail: Island Project Shows Story of Black History

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.

Robert Tankard Named As the Interim Principal At West Tisbury School

The West Tisbury school committee voted last night to appoint Robert A. Tankard as interim principal at the West Tisbury School, ending with smiles and expressions of success a search process which began just three weeks ago.
 
“I think you got a good man,” said Pat Gregory, a West Tisbury resident who served on an advisory panel made up of teachers, parents and other com­munity representatives.

Judge Tucker Brings New Dignity To Sessions of Island Court

A man and woman charges recently with sleeping in Ocean Park, a violation of Oak Bluffs law, came before the Dukes county district court judge Herbert E. Tucker, Jr. and were ordered to pay a $25 fine. The told Judge Tucker they needed until 1 p.m. that afternoon to pay.
 
At 1 p.m., the couple did not show appear. They had gone home to Fairhaven.
 

The School Superintendent: Man of Questions and Humor

His education began in the anthracite regions of Pennsylvania, in small towns like Shepton and Port Carbon.
 
He had come to the smoky mining areas of the state as a young lad from Front Royal, Va., his birthplace, a small resort community nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains. His father was a successful auto mechanic after long military service in the army.
 

Open Door Club Now A Memory: Mrs. Edna Smith, Founder Sells Her Home

The little white house behind shrubs at the corner of Cooke street and Tilton Way that, for more than three decades, has been a home away from home for household help in Edgartown, no longer will be welcoming the lonely next summer.

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