To the Editor:
The Oak Bluffs Board of Selectmen failed again to muster moral courage this past Tuesday, as they continue to fret over how to respond to the local NAACP’s request to remove two plaques honoring Confederate soldier located on public land, maintained with public dollars. My sense is the Board’s hastiness in deciding to hold a public forum in a month’s time flies in the face of fundamental fairness. Their timetable totally excludes an important missing voice — thousands of black taxpaying vacationers who, according to the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce bring in an estimated $30 million-plus when they converge on Martha’s Vineyard every July and August. One would think Oak Bluffs would be appreciative of this black customer base, who, drawn places like its historically-black Inkwell Beach, help fill its tax coffers. Instead though, this all-white, predominantly-male board has decided to eliminate the input of black visitors, most of whom don’t arrive until late summer. Given Tuesday’s decision, elected officials will leave the discussion on this racially-charged issue up to town residents, 90 percent of which are white, and less than five percent black. Mind you, all of this is done with an eye toward a possible ballot referendum this fall, again when black taxpayers aren’t on the Island. Talk about taxation without representation. Talk about voter suppression. Talk about disenfranchisement. The only silver lining for me, as a black seasonal visitor, is learning from Oak Bluffs Police Chief Erik Blake no official paperwork is required if one wants to stage a protest at the statue over the Confederate plaques this August.
Clennon L. King