African American History

45 Pequot Avenue

Strolling Through the Porches of History

The spirit of community, fellowship and Vineyard charms permeate the walls of the five houses being presented by the Cottagers for the 28th annual Cottager House Tour on July 21. The houses represent a diverse group in style and age. Some remain similar to the original houses built around the middle of the 19th century, others are the newly built or refurbished homes of today with current amenities. The owners love their houses passionately and are engaged in the community around them. The names on some houses reflect the owners’ love of the Vineyard.


Encountering Barack Obama Amid Vineyard’s Black History

In the late summer of 2004, Barack Obama agreed to participate in a forum on race relations held at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown.

Shearer Cottage, Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard

At Shearer Cottage, Blacks Were Welcome

My grandfather, Charles Shearer, was born into slavery. Henrietta Shearer was of Native American and African American descent. They were both educated at Hampton University.


Racial Equality Long Way Off, Say Speakers Led by Skip Gates

Nodding to Professor Henry Louis (Skip) Gates Jr. at his Whaling Church panel discussion Achieving Equality in the Age of Obama last night, Princeton professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell shook her head and said: ”If you had told me this time last year, when we were all pretty emotionally up and excited, even though George W. Bush was still our President, that we would actually feel worse a year later, when Barack Obama was our President, about questions of race in America, I would have told you you were lying.”

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.