Around the Island

Black History Month on Shelter Island

To kick off Black History Month, NBC-TV New York’s Greg Cergol interviewed Sylvester Manor Curator Donnamarie Barnes, and East Hampton Star Owner/Editor David Rattray of the Plain Sight Project on Monday, Feb. 1.

Later this month, Ms. Barnes will be featured in a story on the channel focused solely on Sylvester Manor and its role in slavery.

Next Monday, Feb. 8 from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Ms. Barnes and Mr. Rattray will be discussing the Plain Sight Project in an online program hosted by Guild Hall, called, “GATHER: Conversations led by Black and Indigenous Change Makers in Suffolk County.”

Devised specifically for community leaders, service workers, teachers, and developers, the GATHER series is described as bringing in the voices and experiences of various BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) scholars, artists, and leaders, providing both lessons on past histories, and strategies and examples of how to progress forward together.

The conversation will be led by Jeremy Dennis, artist and tribal member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, and Anthony Madonna, Guild Hall’s Senior Associate for Learning and Public Engagement. All sessions occur virtually over Zoom with an intimate group of 15 to 20 people, and include hands-on activities and briefs for a deeper connection to the topics discussed. To register for this session, which costs $35, visit

The Shelter Island Historical Society posted a photo online of Dinah Rock, with some background on the Black woman associated with its name. Dinah (Diana, Dianna) Williams was born into slavery in Orient. She obtained her freedom by the age of 25 and is listed in the 1820 census as a land owner in the Hay Beach area.

The Society reports that according to local lore, “Diana used to sit on a flat rock, which now bears her name, cleaning her fish, and blowing her bosun’s horn as she waved to passing fishermen.”

For more on her legend, see