Oak Bluffs: Change for all generations


“Summer comes with a bound, winter comes yawning.” So says the Old Farmer’s Almanac about the summer solstice on June 20. It seems impossible that we are rapidly headed toward the longest day and shortest night of the year, and then the very next day will be the start of shorter daylight hours. It has been a busy week in the world and here, bringing us some sorrows and some hopes of better times.

A march for social justice was held in Oak Bluffs on Saturday last. Hundreds of people participated, and among them were my daughter, granddaughter, and four great-grandchildren. We are our own rainbow coalition, as our family group included African American, Wampanoag, Portuguese, and English. And that is only a small part of my immediate family. We feel well-protected and safe with our own OBPD, and always have. But it is not the same everywhere. My daughter Mary, who marched, said, “it was uplifting to be a part of the BLM March on Sunday. My daughter and grandchildren marched with me, and it was a good opportunity for them to see so many people in their community come together for a common goal. There were lots of questions, particularly from 5-year-old Eagan. It’s hard to explain some of this to children who are so young, but I feel strongly that education is crucial to helping people understand. Yesterday was a living example, and another reason I love our M.V. home.”

Three of the original organizers are not only students at MVRHS but also from Oak Bluffs. Diamond Araujo was kind enough to send me a brief statement: “The Young Activists for Social Justice of Martha’s Vineyard was started and organized by myself, Diamond Araujo, Saige Araujo, Jada Randolph, and Kai Rose. Danielle Hopkins eagerly joined soon after to help put on our March for Change. Since coming out with fliers for the march, we’ve had a handful of other youth activists reach out to join! It’s really uplifting to see this community come together in these trying times and show up for one another. A lot of people are showing up and playing their role, and that’s all we can hope for. We look forward to keeping this momentum and fighting for the change we wish to see in the world!” So proud of our youth.

I was pleasantly surprised and happy to receive a text from one of my grandsons, who lives in Vineyard Haven. He said he was quite puzzled to receive a birthday card from me, as his birthday wasn’t until August, but then he noticed the postmark was dated August 24, 2019. I had the correct address, and he assumed it probably was caught in a mailing bin at the Post Office, and found when they had to do a thorough cleaning because of the virus. Bit of happy news, small as it may be.

Sunday is Father’s Day, and we send out love to all the fathers of every description. We have birth fathers, stepfathers, uncles, brothers, and so many people filling that role. Let us not forget the Big Brothers who step in to fill the empty spot left by fathers who are no longer there. I was so fortunate to have a father who loved his children and wife above everything else in life. Have a blessed Father’s Day.

The Oak Bluffs Highway Department wants everyone to know that waste drop-off will be free for the month of June. Removing food waste (along with your other recycling) from your garbage will reduce the number of garbage bags, which will in turn reduce your cost. Free compost buckets are available.

Our library is still closed to the public, but contactless hold pickup will begin Saturday, June 20.

Tom Dresser sends the following excerpt from his latest book being released very shortly, and it is certainly appropriate for these times: “In the antebellum era, Martha’s Vineyard played a role in the Underground Railroad. By the end of the 19th century, Black tourists viewed the Vineyard as a refuge from the strictures of Jim Crow. A Black community emerged on the Vineyard. Former slave and hotelier Charles Shearer opened Shearer Cottage in 1912, catering to vacationing Blacks. [Due to the coronavirus, Shearer Cottage will not open this year.] The Rev. Oscar Denniston from Jamaica ran the Bradley Mission in Oak Bluffs for 40 years. His mission was to serve the Black community as well as work with immigrants learning American customs. By the late 1940s, Ebony magazine defined Oak Bluffs as the premier vacation destination for African Americans on the East Coast. From Dorothy West mentoring aspiring writers at Inkwell Beach to the current Oak Bluffs Police cChief Erik Blake, who is the head of the local chapter of the NAACP, the spirit of Martha’s Vineyard reflects the African American community. Black lives matter.”

We send birthday smiles to Tony Lima, Sharon Mello, and Ann Merritt on June 19, Pam Swan and John O’Donnell on the 20th, my grandson Jeremy Alley-Tarter and Teddy and Robbie Pacheco on the 21st, Paula O’Conner on the 22nd, and Jay Schofield on the 23rd.

Enjoy your week. Peace.

If you have any Oak Bluffs Town Column suggestions, email Megan Alley, meganislandmegan@comcast.net.