In 1964, a group of young women graduated from Rust College, Holly Springs, Mississippi and though their lives took them to many parts of the US to settle, every year since graduation they have taken a trip together.
This year brought them to Martha’s Vineyard. On the day before they left the Island, they discovered the African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard and were excited to explore the rich history of people of color on this Island. With no information other than there was a connection with the high school they paid an impromptu visit . They were excited to discover that I was a cofounder of the Trail. The school is itself a site on the Trail dedicated both to Quinton Bannister, the first African American teacher and the basketball teams of the 1970’s.
What captivated the visitors, who were all educators, was the work done by students to honor the Trail. Margaret Joba Woodruff’s 2016 painting of Emma Maitland was the beginning of a history walk that included the murals of Nancy Michael, Rebecca the Woman from Africa and William Martin, the island’s only African American whaling captain.
These women brought a wealth of experience in education: Rosie M. Greggs an educator and school board member, Jossie Malone Leadbetter, school board president and Zelpha Lamarr Montgomery, a minister, educator and community activist. Their range of expertise was incredible. Veronica Simms, student services coordinator from Des Moines, Iowa while Priscilla Greene worked for the State of Illinois as an employment counselor and GED instructor. The final member of the group was Sari Elice Greggs a school counselor in New Jersey and a member of PHI Delta Kappa and the National Education Sorority.
We had a wonderful visit sharing ideas, humor and a shared love of history.
–Elaine Cawley Weintraub, Ed.D
History Department Chair