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Martha's Vineyard Lottery for Black New York Politicians

Oak Bluffs.
Photo: Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The rising stars of New York’s black political establishment are still getting used to their powers and have made the wise decision to include a trip to Martha’s Vineyard on their agenda this year. For nearly a century, the annual summer gathering of black middle-class artists, academics, lawyers, doctors and business owners has been a hub of cultural events, academic panels and informal social bonding. In recent years, it is also suitable for politicians to collect campaign donations.

It’s a trip that requires some planning: It’s not always easy to get tickets on the ferries that service the vineyards, and there are only a few direct flights from New York each day. There are very few rooms (a recent search on Airbnb found weekend stays ranging from $979 to $10,000 a night).

So it’s a big deal that Mayor Eric Adams arrived on the island and stayed overnight to attend a fundraiser in Edgartown sponsored by De Nora and Mark Getachu. Alicia Hindman and Latrice Walker and activist Tamika Mallory attended the quiet meeting. I got support and I had a lot of laughs with my friends,” Mallory posted on Instagram.)

Private fundraising and informal meetings are opportunities for state leaders to network without pressure from impoverished voters, pushy lobbyists, or nosy journalists.

“I’ve been trying to get [Assembly Speaker] Carl Heastie has been coming here for years. This is his first time,” said Hasoni Platts, a political consultant who has a home in Oak Bluffs. “This is not a Latino political conference or a weekend of Black He caucuses.

Platts also hosted Brooklyn representative Hakeem Jeffries, a frontrunner in the race to become Speaker of the House, at his first ever Vineyard fundraiser. Jeffries was in town to headline his weekend at California Congressman Barbara Lee’s 17th Annual Martha’s Vineyard. This included Rep. Gregory Meeks of Queens, Rep. Joyce Beatty of Ohio, Rep. Jahana Hayes of Connecticut, Rep. Lisa Her Rochester of Delaware and Rep. Terry Sewell of Alabama.

Interesting stories about how and why generations of black professionals gathered in the vineyard each August our kind of people By Lawrence Otis Graham, author and attorney who died last year at the age of 59. Graham, a law graduate from Princeton and Harvard, was an astute analyst of race and class. He once took time off from his corporate legal job to go undercover as a busboy at his all-white country club in Greenwich, where he relentlessly exposed his snobbery. New York cover story.

Oak Bluffs, on the North Shore of Vineyards, is where black middle-class feats come to relax, connect, and unwind from the tensions, glass ceilings, and subtle twists of their mostly-white workplaces and neighborhoods. A place to build a network. This month members of Jack and Jill, an invitation-only black youth organization, hosted a mixer for teens, as well as sessions on SAT preparation. Recruiters at Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase said , attended a low-key meeting with a college student, a historically predominantly black college graduate. And hundreds of members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority gathered at Inkwell Beach and they turned the day into “Pinkwell.”

The 2022 season saw former presidents Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, who own 29 acres in Edgartown, make a surprise appearance at the 20th Annual Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival. descendants, a documentary produced by Higher Ground, Obama’s film company. The festival included Viola Davis, broadcaster Tiffany Cross, Reverend Al Sharpton (the subject of the documentary), Tyler Perry and, of course, Spike Lee. .

In addition to the film festival, Spike and Tonya Lewis Lee hosted a sold-out fundraiser for Wes Moore, former CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, the Democratic candidate for governor of Maryland.

I ran into my friend Patrick Gaspard. He was Obama’s former White House political bureau chief, who now runs the think tank Center for American Progress, and was part of the Oak Bluffs panel on black women in the workplace. washington week in PBS. Political commentator Bakari Sellers moderated a panel discussion on black philanthropy. Former Bronx legislator Michael Blake has organized a conference on technology and politics. The Summit was also convened by the Council of City Professionals, a network of citizens and businesses.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee from Texas and Deidre Dejar, the Democratic nominee for governor of Iowa, were present. So did Rep. Karen Bass, the frontrunner for mayor of Los Angeles. Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona and Rep. Nikema Williams of Georgia were both considered likely to wield significant influence in Congress (Williams also served as state speaker for the Democratic Party of Georgia). are).

“The reason I open my network is to help people who don’t have the connections and resources but who really want to do good, they just don’t have the network,” Pratts said. “It is difficult to run for public office and many people do not have the opportunity to practice self-care. You can. That’s part of the donation, too.”

Culture, meetings, teenage socializing, professional networking, personal rejuvenation, the flow of black money to politicians amassing dramatic levels of power. Somewhere out there, Lawrence Otis Graham is looking down and smiling.

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