Martha’s Vineyard NAACP celebrates 50 years with a big bash in Oak Bluffs

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The Martha’s Vineyard chapter of the NAACP will mark its 50th anniversary with a celebration on Saturday, August 17, at Hooked restaurant on Beach Road in Oak Bluffs. The renowned poet, activist, and educator Nikki Giovanni will be the guest of honor.

Among her many plaudits, Ms. Giovanni has been named “Woman of the Year” by Ebony Magazine, Mademoiselle Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal, and she was also named one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 “Living Legends.” Her autobiography, “Gemini,” was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1973. Ms. Giovanni is also a Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. In 2007, she received world-wide acclaim, and a personal visit from the Queen of England, in response to her stirring oratory, “We Are Virginia Tech,” a chant poem she performed for the convocation service held in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, where 32 people were killed by a lone gunman.

“It always means a lot when you get recognized for your work.” Ms. Giovanni said in a telephone interview with The Times. “I’m very honored and I’m looking forward to going back to Martha’s Vineyard.”

Although she hasn’t been here in some time, Ms. Giovanni has fond memories of the Island. “My friend Shirley Lewis and I used a rent a home in Oak Bluffs,” she said. “Both our boys were named Tom, they were good friends, so we took the Toms to spend part of the summer. I have happy memories from those days.”

Event organizer Gladys Toscano, a longtime seasonal resident who moved to Oak Bluffs two years ago, expresses great pride in hosting the event in her adopted home town, a place that she feels is the embodiment of what the NAACP strives to create.

“I see such a mixture of races intermingling and reproducing in Oak Bluffs,” Ms. Toscano said. “People are kind to each other here. There’s no place like it in the world. I felt compelled that something should be done to mark this occasion. It’s not going to be a night of speeches, We’re going to honor Nikki, acknowledge our ancestors who got this started, and then we’re going to have fun.”

The public is invited and encouraged to attend. Tickets are $150 for sponsors and VIPs and $100 for the cocktail party and dancing. Tickets can be purchased online at — there is a 25 percent discount for using the promotional code MV50 — and in person at at C’est la Vie, 51 Circuit Avenue, Oak Bluffs. All proceeds will go to the Martha’s Vineyard Chapter of the NAACP.