25. Coleman Corners, Myrtle Avenue, Highlands, Oak Bluffs.

Coleman Corners was dedicated as Site number 25 on the Heritage Trail in 2013. Jocelyn Coleman Walton recalls that her paternal grandmother, Luella Barnett Coleman, first came to the Vineyard in 1927 to work as a waitress during the summer and in 1944 she and her husband purchased the property from Manuel Gonsalves. Over the years the house was extended and it remained the place where the children and grandchildren of the family would spend each summer.

coleman-cornerIt was Luella’s vision of a family home on the Island that became a reality. The plaque on the Coleman home honors Luella’s achievement and that of her husband, Ralf Meshack Coleman, who was designated by Kevin White, the Mayor of Boston as the “Dean of Boston’s Black Theater”. October 5th, 1975 was designated as Boston’s Ralf Coleman Day to honor his career.

Ralf was a leading and renowned actor, playwright, producer and director and his work over 50 years helped shape the Black Theater in Boston. He traveled throughout the US and appeared on Broadway as the romantic lead in the drama “Roll Sweet Chariot.” In 1935, Ralf was appointed the director of the WPA Federal Theater project.

It is fitting that the City of Boston and the African American Heritage Trail recognize Ralf’s contributions to African American theater, and the creativity that he nurtured.

 

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