The African-American Heritage Trail on Martha’s Vineyard

Discover more about the Island’s history with a walking tour of the African American Heritage Trail.

The African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard is a compilation of 30 different sites dedicated to previously unrecognized contributions made by people of African heritage, to the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Every site has a commemorative plaque describing each contribution. 

The organizers, the African American Heritage Trail History Project, are a non-profit corporation, invested and dedicated to the research and sharing of the history of the African American people on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Most importantly, the work is to identify these sites and place a bronze plaque to honor that person and contributions. 

This project is a way to get the community involved in the education and celebration of the research that is discovered and showcased. 

“For several years, the history classes at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School were involved as research assistants in the work of the Trail and acted as tour guides, site maintenance staff, mural painters, website developers, and musicians. Several graduates of that program now work with us during the summer season to share their knowledge with our visitors.  We continue to work in the Island schools.”

The Mission of the Trail is to continue to research and publish previously undocumented history and to involve the Island community in the identification and celebration of the contributions made by people of color to the island of Martha’s Vineyard. 

While you’re on the island, you can book a few different trails to explore via a walking tour with expert tour guides:

  • Oak Bluffs ($40)
  • Oak Bluffs and Edgartown ($60)
  • All Island Tour ($80) - this tour is not walking and has a stop at the Aquinnah Cliffs as well 

You can book a tour on their website, MV African-American Heritage Trail tours. They also have books available to support their organization, such as Lighting the Trail: African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard, written by the founders of the trail, Elaine Cawley Weintraub and Carrie Camillo Tankard.

If you’re looking to discover and learn more about the Island’s history, a walking tour that will teach you the most important contributions to the island by African American community members, is the way to go. 

You can read more articles about the African American Heritage Trail in the Vineyard Gazette. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram for the most updated information.