A large white cake sat on a table toward the back of the tent on Saturday afternoon in Ocean Park. On it was a picture of a hand holding a rose, with the words “A flower for Della.” The picture was drawn by Shel Silverstein and it complemented the day’s message to Savor the Moment to honor of the legacy of Della Hardman, who died 10 years ago.

At the start of Della Hardman Day, Marie Allen, Elizabeth Rawlins and David Wilson presented prizes to the two students who won the Savor the Moment essay contest, which challenged regional high school students to answer the question: “What can be done on this Island to fight injustice?”

Elliot Ferland and Kaitlyn Marchand wrote the winning essays, and Jacob Janak and Emily Turney received honorable mentions.

Della Hardman's daughter Andrea Taylor speaks to the crowd at Ocean Park. — Jeanna Shepard

Erik Blake, chief of police for the town of Oak Bluffs and president of the Island’s NAACP chapter, noted how the students recognized that today’s racial issues involve everyone.

The guest speaker for the day was Cornell Williams Brooks, a minister, civil rights lawyer and the president of the national NAACP. His impassioned voice seemed to shake the modest white tent in Ocean Park.

Mr. Brooks’ speech had the tenor of a preacher, the practicality of a lawyer and the humility and empathy of a father and husband. He told the crowd to not look back, but first to look inwards, then forward. He then asked the audience to “take a selfie of the nation, of educational inequity, of criminal injustice . . . . what would it reveal?”

The answer, he said, is frightening, showing the lost lives of Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner and many more. He spoke of a country that needed mending, a country splintered and broken by relationships between nations and tribes and nation states.

Cornell Brooks, president of the NAACP, was the featured speaker. — Jeanna Shepard

After centuries of intellectual development, in an age where selfies are in abundance, he said our country still struggles with self reflection and change. Mr. Brooks encouraged all people — whites and blacks, gays and straights, transgenders, Christians and Muslims, men, women and children — to join the movement for equal opportunity. He said the answer will be found in mass involvement, active mass involvement, because all lives matter.

“Unless we put our boots on the ground, we can’t put laws in the books,” he said.

Mr. Brooks has a march in mind. He is calling for a mass mobilization of people to walk 860 miles, beginning August 1, from Ferguson, Mo. to Washington, D.C. It will be a march that harkens back to our forebears in Selma, he said, who were martyrs for the freedom and security of their children.

Mr. Brooks is asking people of all ages to “lace up their boots, write me a check, and show up to Ferguson on August 1.”

He called specifically for a restoration of the voting rights amendment from the 1960s, assurance of equal academic opportunity and a fixed relationship between communities and their police forces.

Throughout his talk, Mr. Brooks’ voice boomed encouragement and inspiration in honor of change, of justice and of Della Hardman. He ended by saying that now is the moment, and we should savor this moment.