"There was no other place that I was surrounded by that much Black joy and laughter. It struck me that this is the way the world should be, and this is a place that I felt the safest. That is where it all started," Kahina Van Dyke recalls of her memories at Martha's Vineyard with her family as a young girl.

Van Dyke, the brains behind the Martha's Vineyard Juneteenth Jubilee and a hotelier with multiple properties around the summer haven, says that it was those trips, spearheaded by her father, that fueled her deep love for the historically Black Oak Bluffs and Ink Well Beach. It was a time for Black American families to simply gather and enjoy each other—even during a time when much of the country faced racial turmoil and unrest. Once she became older, she knew that she wanted to keep her ties to the Vineyard as well as provide that same joy that she felt to others.

"When I bought my first summer home in Oak Bluffs, it was my lifelong dream. It was really important for me to actually own property there. Once there, it was this beautiful haven that I cannot describe. I would go back every summer for two weeks, and it would really charge me up. I bought my first hospitality property 5 years ago in hopes of keeping that intentionality of community going. In 2021, it hit me that we really needed to celebrate Juneteenth and the freedom of our people on the Vineyard," shares Van Dyke.

That vision led her to launch the powerful Juneteenth Jubilee festival. What started as a 3-day gathering from her front porch led to a very organic—yet very much requested—celebration. She was able to secure an 1,800 seat venue on the Vineyard as well as talents, including Lynn Whitfield and, Nikole Hannah-Jones, voluntarily wanting to become part of this budding legacy.

From left: Nikole Hannah-Jones and Kahina Van Dyke speaking during a previous Juneteenth Jubilee event. Image: So Focused Photography.

"I'm so honored and humbled that Nikole Hannah-Jones has agreed to come back. She can be anywhere in the world for Juneteenth, but she recognizes how important this event is for the Black American community," says Van Dyke. "This year, Michael Eric Dyson will preach his first sermon at Union Chapel on Juneteenth Sunday, which has been a spiritual center for our community for a very long time. Dr. Jessica B. Harris—who has been doing African American history and culture for over 35 years—will also be there."

“While history is what happened, it is also, just as important, how we think about what happened and what we unearth and choose to remember about what happened," Nikole Hannah-Jones says. "I’m excited and honored to take part in this important commemoration of our history as a people and at the Vineyard, which has its own important history in the fight for liberation."

In addition to the dynamic speakers and talents, there will be lots of food, music, and just an overall time to reflect on us being a multidimensional people. The event takes place this year on June 16-19.

"My father always reminds me, 'we are a great people,' and that's what this is all about. It's for the community, by the community. And it's a time to celebrate our joy without any gaze—just us," declares Van Dyke.