Monthly Archives: July 2018

Return to East Chop Light

East Chop Lighthouse

The Spirituals Choir’s successful but all-too-short presentation season is winding down, but you still have three chances to hear us before time runs out.

On Saturday, August 4, we’ll be singing a few songs as part of Martha’s Vineyard Gospel Fest at Union Chapel. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door, and $10 for students with ID. The show starts at 7, but we’ll be on toward the end. Thanks to the organizers for inviting us to be part of this!

Next Sunday, August 5, at 6 p.m. we return to East Chop Light for our popular sunset gig. Bring friends, family, and a blanket or a chair to sit on! The lighthouse may be open, in which case you can climb to the top for stupendous views of Vineyard Sound. In case of foul weather, the presentation will not be held.

On Tuesday, August 7, at 4:30, we wrap up the season at one of our favorite places: the West Tisbury library. The program room there is a great place to sing and a great place to listen to music.

 

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Songs from the Fields @ Union Chapel

For the Spirituals Choir, summers are always busy, but the main event is always our annual presentation at Union Chapel. It’s happening tomorrow, July 21, at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs. Tickets are $15, to benefit the U.S. Slave Song Project, of which the choir is a part. Children under 12 get in free. Tickets are available at the door and from choir members.

Once again, organist Lavert Stuart is our special guest.

Please join us!

If you can’t make it, or even if you can, our upcoming presentations include Thursday, July 26, at the Oak Bluffs library at 4:30 pm, and Tuesday, August 7, at the West Tisbury library, also at 4:30 p.m. We’re working on arranging a return to the East Chop Lighthouse, a perennially popular venue. Watch this space and the local papers for info on that.

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Singing in Chilmark

Jim Thomas and the Spirituals Choir gave a well-attended and well-received presentation at the Chilmark library yesterday, July 7. This photo was taken by audience member Everett Spees. Thank you!!

We have two full-length programs coming up this week. On Thursday, July 12, at 2 p.m. we’ll be at the Tabernacle, in the heart of the Campground in Oak Bluffs, as part of the “Catch the Spirit!” youth program. All are welcome! And on Saturday, July 14, at 3 p.m. we return to the Edgartown library, whose program room is one of our favorite places — great acoustics!

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The Fourth (and Fifth) of July

Do you know why Frederick Douglass gave his famous “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” speech on the fifth of July, in 1852, to be exact?

Because in the years before the Civil War, the Fourth was celebrated mostly by whites. In his speech Douglass eloquently explains why African Americans had little reason to celebrate the Fourth. When they did observe the date, it was generally on July 5.

But, as Ethan J. Kytle and Blain Roberts note in their important article in The Atlantic, “When the Fourth of July Was a Black Holiday,” when the Civil War ended and the enslaved became free, all that changed. Then, at least in the South, it was African Americans who “embraced the Fourth like never before. From Washington, D.C., to Mobile, Alabama, they gathered together to watch fireworks and listen to orators recite the Emancipation Proclamation, the Declaration of Independence, and the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery when it was ratified in late 1865.” White people were reportedly rarely seen in public on that day.

Kytle and Roberts add:

Throughout the South, freedwomen were conspicuous participants in Fourth of July celebrations, pushing back against the gender and, in many cases, class barriers that relegated them to the sidelines of Reconstruction politics. The domestic workers and washerwomen of the Daughters of Zion and the Sisters of Zion, two benevolent societies in Memphis, Tennessee, marched in parades each year. The 1875 parade featured a carriage carrying “a queen for the day”—a striking claim to the respectability whites routinely denied black women.

But as white supremacy reasserted itself and Jim Crow took hold, as statues to Confederate generals and leaders were erected across the South, white people reclaimed the Fourth of July.

Ethan J. Kytle and Blain Roberts are the authors of the new book Denmark Vesey’s Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy, which the New York Times and quite a few others have called a must-read.

On July 4, 2018, at 4 p.m. there will be a public reading of Frederick Douglass’s great speech at the Inkwell in Oak Bluffs. Come read or come listen! Either way you’ll be inspired.

Participants in last year’s reading of Frederick Douglass’s speech at the Inkwell.

 

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