Since its beginning, the trail has become a staple in Ms.
Weintraub's high school history curriculum.
"The trail began with a slow start, but it was a success as
a student project. At first it was not supported. New ideas
don't always fly, and when you're in a new place where people
have always done things the same way, they don't understand."
By involving her sophomore students, a new age group began
to learn the recently discovered history. "The whole point
of the trail is that before we did the research, nobody knew
any of this. Now a whole generation knows," says Ms. Weintraub.
Through modeling, taking pictures, landscaping, writing, and
doing artwork, her students have contributed a large amount
to the actual trail, the book, and the web site.
The first time Ms. Weintraub remembers active participation
from her students was when they toured the uncharted trail
in its beginning stages. After seeing the sites, the students
embarked on their own projects on the individuals, like Rebecca,
the woman from Africa, and William Martin.
"It seems like every year, something gets added by the kids,"
Ms. Weintraub says. "Whether it's a new site, or cleaning
up a graveyard. Sometimes it's doing great artwork, like the
murals, or organizing a survey on the Martin House, just what
needs to get done. The students have a real piece of this.
It's not just my doing."
Student involvement continued on the trail's recently made
and informative web site, mvheritagetrail.org. The site is
home to biographies and descriptions of the people and places
that make up the 17-site trail. Student-made sites specific
to points of interest, links to previously published articles,
and the authors' historical research tools are available to
site dedicated to Nancy Michael is on Memorial Wharf
in Edgartown. Nancy was the grandmother of whaling captain
William Martin and the daughter of Rebecca. After a
vigorous court battle, it was decided Nancy was never
a slave, although she had been enslaved, because slavery
had not been legal in the state at that time.
This June, two new sites will be added to the trail. The first
will be at the Grace Church in Tisbury. The plaque will be
dedicated to the Martha's Vineyard NAACP, and more specifically,
to a group of three women.
In 1963, this group of three Island women traveled to Williamston,
N.C., with the hopes of integrating a Sears store after the
assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Eventually, the
women helped found the Island's chapter of the NAACP, with
the help of Audria Tankard, Audrey Levasseur, Toby Dorsey,
and Lucille Dorsey. Currently, two of the women are still
living on the Island.
The second addition will be found where the old West Tisbury
library used to be, which now belongs to the Historical Preservation
Trust. The women who traveled to North Carolina met there
to plan their trip.
Most recently, in July 2006, the trail dedicated a site at
Cottagers Corner in Oak Bluffs. The Cottagers, the group of
professional African American women, was formed in 1956. The
Cottagers are known for their generosity to causes such as
the local hospital, library, and the NAACP.
With new sites appearing, a dedicated board of directors,
and a wonderful group of students and teachers from the past
and the present, the trail has become a success. Though she
is the mother of the trail, Ms. Weintraub speaks about a trail
"I love the site to Rebecca, the woman from Africa, at Great
Rock Bight. It's a walk to get there, but it's a tradition.
People put rocks, feathers, pretty stones, and shells there
for her, and the site is very emotionally beautiful."
Complete and limited tours are available year-round, and Ms.
Weintraub also offers workshops for teachers and historians.
"Off-Islanders take the trail and are surprised. 'There was
slavery on Martha's Vineyard?' they ask," Ms. Weintraub says.
For trail and tour information, visit the web site.
In an effort to widen the general scope of learning history,
Ms. Weintraub is enthusiastic. She elaborates, "We compartmentalize
history. There's 'women's' and 'black' in February. People
don't realize it's all part of the same story, or the passion
you feel about it. It's the historian's passion, but it's
also the passion of justice and fairness."