Editor’s note: First published in June 2019. Martha’s Vineyard is well-known as the summer home of the black elite. But really, it’s the summer of home of black heritage, black excellence, and black friends and family. If you’re planning to visit Martha’s Vineyard this summer, what are the best places to see, stay, and dine on the island? Especially if you’re seeking the iconic black experience on Martha’s Vineyard that African-American families have had since the late 1890’s? We went straight to the expert. Author of Our Kind of People, Lawrence Otis Graham, shares the ultimate Black and African-American culture guide to the best of Martha’s Vineyard for families, first-time visitors and more.
Did you get the inside jokes about race in the film Black Panther? They were all there, lying in plain sight for those of us who grew up black in certain decades and certain kinds of households. As I watched Black Panther with my family on its debut weekend, I found myself making eye contact and laughing aloud with my wife and kids at times during the movie that some of my fellow movie-goers didn’t quite seem to get. It’s the same feeling I have when I watch the TV show Black-ish – with its upscale family of five children who attend private school, and whose parents are professionals. It’s so spot-on with the wry humor that lives in every striving black family that I still can’t believe America has embraced the show so enthusiastically. Like all great entertainment, both of these properties exist on multiple levels – and it feels as if some of the jokes were written just for us: for the members of the black community.
Why is Martha’s Vineyard so important to the black elite? Generations of African-Americans have spent summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. How did that start, and why does Martha’s Vineyard still hold such an iconic place in the lives of black Americans? We went straight to the expert, the author of Our Kind of People. Here, Lawrence Otis Graham explains why many African-Americans and members of the Black elite spend every summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.