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Carrie Camillo Tankard

Carrie C. Tankard has been a contributor to the civic and cultural life on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts for nearly forty years. Her major work has been in civil rights, historic preservation and education, and intercultural understanding.

Born on February 18, 1935 in Newark, New Jersey, Tankard was one of seven children of Maggie and Felipe Camillo. She graduated from Newark’s Southside High School in 1953. After high school, she was employed as a clerk-typist at the Internal Revenue Service in Newark for four years. She married George Tankard of Newark in 1954, and they had six children between 1955 and 1961.

At the time of the urban civil rights riots in Newark in 1967, the Tankards were living in public housing. The violence, fires and store lootings during the two-day disturbance led her family to flee Newark and they relocated on Martha’s Vineyard in the fall of 1967.

While she worked as a dental assistant from 1968 – 2000, Tankard’s civic and community involvements and contributions have been significant and acknowledged across the Island. For thirty-eight years she has served as vice-president of the Martha’s Vineyard Branch of the NAACP, working on memberships, with youth, and chairing the branch’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Dinner. She is the co-founder of the African American Heritage Trail on Martha’s Vineyard, which was established in the early 1990s.

As a lay historian she created African American educational exhibits on Black cowboys and cultural cooking and foods. She has been an active member of the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust. She served for five years on the Board of Directors of the League of Women Voters and for two years on the board of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospice. She is a former president of a Parent Teacher’s Association, and she has been a volunteer tutor of English for Portuguese immigrants to the island.

Accession Number

A2005.145

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/22/2005

Last Name

Tankard

Maker Category
Middle Name

Camillo

Schools

Southside High School

Miller St

First Name

Carrie

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

TAN01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New Jersey

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Interview Description
Birth Date

2/18/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Martha's Vineyard

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Short Description

Association branch executive Carrie Camillo Tankard (1935 - ) served as vice president of the Martha's Vinyard branch of the NAACP for nearly forty years, and is the co-founder of the African American Heritage Trail on Martha’s Vineyard.

Employment

Internal Revenue Service

Peter E. Strock, D.D.S.

Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Carrie Camillo Tankard's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Carrie Camillo Tankard lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes her maternal grandfather, George Franklin Kornegay

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes her neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey.

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes activities in her community as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes family activities and growing up in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes a family vacation

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes the sights, sound and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes her experience at Miller Street Elementary School in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes what she was like as a student

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes her shop class at South Side High School in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes her activities at South Side High School in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes her first job at Liberty Mutual Insurance

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes meeting her husband, George Tankard, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes her first years of marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Carrie Camillo Tankard lists and describes her children

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes the move to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes race relations in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes the aftermath of the 1967 Newark Riots

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes the family's arrival in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes buying a house in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Carrie Camillo Tankard talks about becoming a dental assistant

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Carrie Camillo Tankard recalls how she became interested in community involvement

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Carrie Camillo Tankard talks about her involvement with the NAACP

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Carrie Camillo Tankard recounts how the Martha's Vineyard NAACP chapter formed

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial dinner

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Carrie Camillo Tankard details educational activities within the NAACP

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes scholarship and legal programs within NAACP

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes the African-American Heritage Trail of Martha's Vineyard

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Carrie Camillo Tankard details sites on the African-American Heritage Trail of Martha's Vineyard

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes the plans for the African-American Heritage Trail of Martha's Vineyard

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes her husband's involvement with the NAACP

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes rewards she has received over the years

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Carrie Camillo Tankard talks about her interests and activities

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Carrie Camillo Tankard reflects upon the importance of history

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Carrie Camillo Tankard reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes her future plans

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Carrie Camillo Tankard reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Carrie Camillo Tankard describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Carrie Camillo Tankard narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

1$5

DATitle
Carrie Camillo Tankard recounts how the Martha's Vineyard NAACP chapter formed
Carrie Camillo Tankard describes the African-American Heritage Trail of Martha's Vineyard
Transcript
Could you give us a brief accounting of the development of the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] on the island [Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts] in the early '60s [1960s], as you read about it and then heard about it before you got here?$$Well, the branch really took off in '63 [1963], just after the assassination of President [John Fitzgerald] Kennedy, there was a young Episcopal minister from Williston, who had done some work in Williston, North Carolina, and he told his parishioners about the problems that they were having there, they were having all kinds of problems that, in jobs and all sorts of discriminations at that time and the people of his parish started taking up collections for food and money and clothing and things to send to Williston, North Carolina. And a group of them called the Vineyard Five, there was five women on the Vineyard who decided that they weren't gonna just send this stuff, they were gonna take it to make sure it got to the right people and they went to Williston and were actually jailed because they sat in on a demonstration at a Sears [Sears, Roebuck and Co.] store who would not hire blacks and they were all arrested and put in jail. And their husbands went to Williston to get them and after that they started, they would meet in churches and different places and decided they really do need the NAACP and it was formed with Toby Dorsey, as interim president. And, from there on we started having a NAACP. It w--$$So when you arrived here in '67 [1967], in '68 [1968], the branch was--$$The branch was--$$--up and running?$$--up and running.$$Um-hm.$$And they had lots of memberships.$$Um-hm.$$Even lite memberships because they had a, an entrepreneur, Kippy--Kivi Kaplan, was his name and at the time he was very much involved with the national and he went around the island to all of his friends and relatives and got memberships--$$Um-hm.$$And so--$$I wo--$$--it was fully formed when I arrived so.$$Okay, so you arrive and was that one of your most immediate affiliations? Did you get involved with--$$Yes it was.$$--the--$$It was.$$Who pulled you in? And why did you get involved?$$Jackie Hunt [E. Jacqueline Hunt] who was a friend of mine, and I believe Harold Johnson was the president at the time and it was just the place to be involved.$$What were some of the things that the branch was doing in those very early years, late '60s [1960s], early '70s [1970s], as you became a new young member?$$Well whatever was going on in the country was part of their agenda and on the island there wasn't much going on, they would take part in different events that would happen on the island like the Fourth of July parade and things like that. But there wasn't.$$There weren't a lot (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)There weren't--$$--discrimin--$$--a lot of--$$--discriminate, discrimination complaints or--$$No, they--$$--civil rights violations of people or?$$Well the, the civil rights violations that I remember were in the way of housing and, but it just wasn't so overt that you could really place your finger on it. The realtors, if they took your business were smart enough to only show you in specific areas that they thought you should buy and there were other areas that they just wouldn't even take you to see. Whether you had the money--they didn't know whether you had the money or not, they didn't care, they just wouldn't take you to see those places. And I, that's probably how most of us got to Oak Bluffs [Massachusetts] because they've always called it the honky tonk part of the island. I disagree because I feel everything of value is in Oak Bluffs, the hospital, the airport, you know, everything is here.$So how have you felt, how do you feel now, as you look back at your NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] life, I mean, what has it meant to you being involved (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Well, I have been involved in several other organizations and, NAACP has always been number one for me.$$Um-hm.$$And.$$Well tell me about the other major organizations that you helped to found and--$$Well, I (laughter)--$$--here of, of--$$I co-founded the African-American Heritage Trail of Martha's Vineyard [Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts] with a friend of mine, Elaine Weintraub.$$Elaine?$$Weintraub.$$Okay would you spell her last name?$$W-E-I-N-T-R-A-U-B.$$Okay. How did you happen to get involved in the heritage trail with Doctor Weintraub?$$Well, actually a mutual friend of ours, Elaine is a school teacher, she was working at the sch- Oak Bluffs School [Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts] at the time and a young lady that I knew from childhood, at, she was a child, Corrine Dorsey, she was Dorsey at the time, was also a teacher at the school and I used to give her a lot of my posters and things for Black History Month and Elaine was very much interested in the history of African Americans on the island [Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts] and, I forgot her name already. Corrine introduced us and that's how we got started. At the time, Elaine had had a young class that, and she asked them for some history, some of their family history and they said, we don't have any history on the island and she said, well, where there are white people there are black people, so you gotta have some history. So, she set about hunting for some and as in researchers, you know, every now and then you hit a blank wall and you can't go too much further. In the meantime, I was still at Doctor [Peter] Strock's office and this gentleman came and gave me this document and said, "I know, I see the, your exhibits and things in the paper all the time, maybe you'd be interested in this." Well, I read it and d- at the time it didn't mean very much to me and I took it to Elaine and it turned out to be a census from 1841 or something like that and on it were some of the names that she was hunting for like Captain William [A.] Martin, who is a whaling captain and he had sailed out of and lived in sic. Edgartown, Massachusetts. And as they say the rest is history. We began searching and--$$Researching?$$Researching and, and (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) African Americans?$$Yep.$$History from?$$We were in and out of the [Vineyard] Gazette office and--$$Um-hm.$$--Dukes County Historical Society [Martha's Vineyard Museum, Edgartown, Massachusetts] and--$$Um-hm. So, how did you go about establish--$$--the courthouse.$$--ing the trail then, this African American heritage trail? And when did you really get that signed officially?$$Well, it was official in 1997, before that we had gone to, we had been invited to Nantucket [Massachusetts] to speak on the history of the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], and I, that's what I spoke on and, and Elaine spoke on the whaling captain, and at the [Nantucket] Atheneum [Nantucket, Massachusetts]? And they were building a black history trail 'cause they had an African meeting house there and they had other places where Frederick Douglass had been and things like that. And, their trail was so spread out that we thought, well, wait a minute, some of our, the things that we have discovered are a little bit closer, maybe we can do a trail and so we came home and put our heads together and started marking all the areas and, that we could build a trail. And so now, we have, I believe there's nine trails, nine areas in, just in Oak Bluffs [Massachusetts] alone. A lot of ours is spread out too. Because there's two areas in Chappaquiddick [Island, Edgartown, Massachusetts] and there's an area in Aquinnah [Massachusetts] and Chilmark [Massachusetts].