Martha's Vineyard's African American Legacy

Obamas tap into 200-year tradition on island retreat.

ByABC News
August 24, 2009, 2:23 PM

Aug. 24, 2009— -- This week the Obamas joined the ranks of past presidents, celebrities and wealthy families who have flocked to the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard for vacation.

The Obama family also joins the historic tradition of well-to-do African Americans who've chosen Martha's Vineyard as a summer retreat for more than 200 years.

When news of the family's August vacation was first published this spring, several reports speculated the Obamas would stay in Oak Bluffs, the center of the historic African American community on Martha's Vineyard and the town where several Obama family friends vacation.

But the Obama family decided to forego an Oak Bluffs vacation and instead stay on the other side of Martha's Vineyard at an estate in Chilmark.

Vineyard resident Elaine Crawley Weintraub, director of the Martha's Vineyard African American Heritage Trail, was not surprised by the president's choice.

She noted Oak Bluffs has a strong tradition of African Americans who've vacationed on Martha's Vineyard with their families for decades, but added, "Obama doesn't really belong to that generation."

Chilmark also offers the president more options for privacy and seclusion.

"There are no houses in Oak Bluffs where you can have the security needed for a president," Weintraub said.

Although staying in Chilmark, Obama golfed Monday at the Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs.

Many Oak Bluffs residents had prepped their town in advance, hoping the president would stop by.

Lawns were posted with welcome signs and local stores were selling everything from Obama family mugs and t-shirts to more unique items like Obamaritas, special orange-flavored margaritas now on the menu at Sharky's Cantina in Oak Bluffs.