Awareness raised on Inkwell


To the Editor:

Tuesday night the BOS voted 4-0 (1 abstention) not to replace the signs. They saw insurmountable legal obstacles (commerciality/precedence) in doing otherwise. (Commerciality is debatable; setting precedence is not.) They were very open, patient, and allowed myself and the community to make our case. I accept that outcome 100 percent, having known it was a very possible outcome. Be not dismayed!

The signs were a wonderful tool that did a wonderful job for the community. The signs: 1. Fostered a conversation toward more lasting goals 2. Brought this issue to many who were unaware of it, focusing the energies and garnering the support of a wide array of Vineyarders who are now passionate and concerned about the history and culture of African Americans and all Vineyarders as it relates to Inkwell Beach. 3. Allowed this passion and concern to be made evident to the powers that be. They have heard our voices, and have in turn voiced support for our future goals. 4. The sign issue has importantly allowed the community to assess and align with those allies who truly support them.

While i will not deign to speak for them, “I believe” that the O.B. BOS will/can support: 1. Officially changing the name to “Inkwell Beach.” 2. Assist in gaining historic status for Inkwell Beach. 3. The creation and placement of a permanent historic marker at the beach paying homage to the beach and its “O.B. Polar Bears.” But, that is if (and only if) it is the will of the community, and the community does the grunt work to make it happen. I cannot speak for them, but “I believe” the African American Heritage Trail organization has voiced its support, and having a vested interest in this, I believe will also be a leader and critical in attaining these goals, as will a vast number of community members as shown by the strong positive response to the petition drive. So consider the signs an opening salvo in a longer but attainable struggle to give Inkwell Beach its cultural and historical due. Like good soldiers the signs did their job, but must be sacrificed to higher long-term goals. They are now a part of our shared history as we go forward.

For the Inkwell Beach community, celebration is in order.

Deep gratitude to all who contributed and participated, sharing support, love, strength. MV Times for its community awareness and unstinting support of the Inkwell community. Brenda Piland, selectman Brian Packish and the O.B. BOS, Amy Billings and parks and recreation, Orlando Lee (the man), O.B. Polar Bears, especially the “elders” for their wisdom and guidance, and for standing 2½ hours at the BOS meeting waiting patiently for our time to be heard.

Michael Johnson
Oak Bluffs


  1. Michael — just a friendly comment here— Your letter , while heart felt, did not convey to the reader ( at least not me) any idea of what you were talking about. What is BOS ? — What signs ? What did they say ?
    You make a case for something , but i for one have no idea what it is …. Perhaps if you had said ANYTHING about about ” the signs” and their message, I could agree or disagree with you, but right now i have no idea what to think– please clarify—- thanks

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