On the last Saturday of July each year, the town of Oak Bluffs celebrates the life and spirit of late resident Della Hardman — educator, artist, writer and force for good. Her mantra was “savor the moment,” and on July 29 in Ocean Park, family, friends and the community will gather once again to do just that, carrying on Ms. Hardman’s legacy.

“She lived life to the fullest,” her daughter Andrea Taylor said. “She talked frequently about the fact that none of us are here to stay, and that we should live fully and completely every single day.” That life-affirming philosophy emerged despite a pair of early trag edies, her daughter said.

“She was a twin, and her twin perished at birth,” Ms. Taylor said.

Three years later, her mother died in another childbirth.

“It’s one of those issues, unfortunately, that still prevails where African-American women are at great risk with pregnancy and maternal health issues. You can read about it in the paper every day,” Ms. Taylor said.

Joel Christian Gill, co-author of Stamped, will be the featured speaker. — Jeanna Shepard

The loss of her twin and then her mother left the young Ms. Hardman with a sense that she had to live life on their behalf as well as her own, Ms. Taylor said.

“She understood . . . that we’re not guaranteed the length and the timing and circumstances of our existence, but it’s up to us to make sure that we live fully and engage fully,” Ms. Taylor said.

This year’s Della Hardman Day falls on the last day of Legacy Week on the Vineyard, an annual celebration of historically Black colleges and universities.

It is also the opening event in Boston University’s alumni weekend on the Vineyard, said Ms. Taylor, who is B.U.’s senior diversity officer and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the university — one of 10 degrees her family members have earned from the historically-inclusive institution, which admitted people of color while Southern schools were still practicing Jim Crow segregation.

Ms. Hardman earned a master’s degree in fine arts from B.U. just after World War II and went on to become a longtime art professor and department head at West Virginia State College (now University) in her home state. At 72, after a lifetime of seasonal visits to the Vineyard, she retired to Oak Bluffs, earned a PhD in art — finishing her dissertation in the East Chop lighthouse, where she volunteered.

She also wrote the Vineyard Gazette’s Oak Bluffs column for the better part of a decade after inheriting it from author Dorothy West. She died Dec. 13, 2005 at the age of 83.

Her West Virginia students never forgot their teacher, Ms. Taylor said. In the summer of 2005, a group of alumni who were nearing retirement resolved to honor her on the Vineyard with a public dinner party, testimonials and other observances.

“They wanted to recognize her and come back full circle and just indicate that she had been a major force in their life, which is pretty remarkable after 40 or 50 years that students would make that kind of commitment and journey,” Ms. Taylor said.

The event, with Ms. Hardman in attendance, was a hit, she said.

“It was a great celebration [and] the Vineyard community, I think, really took notice of the fact that 50 years after her encounter with them, these students were still, you know, affectionately recalling their experience,” Ms. Taylor said. “Six months later, she was gone.”

The Oak Bluffs select board was so impressed by that summer’s gathering that — without any pressure from her family — its members voted the following year to give Della Hardman Day a permanent spot on the town calendar, on the last Saturday of July, Ms. Taylor said.

“They hadn’t seen anything quite like that, you know, and they were intrigued,” she said.

Joel Christian Gill is the keynote speaker for this year’s Della Hardman Day. Mr. Gill is the co-author of a new, illustrated version of Ibram X. Kendi’s award-winning Stamped from the Beginning: A History of Racist Ideas in America. Mr. Gill, who chairs the Boston University program for master’s degrees in visual narrative, collaborated on the graphic-history edition with Mr. Kendi, a Boston University professor and journalist who received a MacArthur Grant two years ago for his antiracist writings and the National Book Award in 2016 for the original Stamped from the Beginning.

Mr. Gill’s acclaimed graphic memoir Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence won the 2021 Cartoonist Studio Prize from the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont, and his other works include the graphic novel series Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History.

His appearance in Oak Bluffs highlights the role of Della Hardman Day in bringing diverse voices to Island audiences, Ms. Taylor said.

“We’re pleased to be able to bring new artists and people who may or may not have ever been here, but reflect some of the values we value,” Ms. Taylor said.

As part of the event, a high school essay contest, with $1,000 in unrestricted prize money, was conducted earlier in the year to give young Islanders a platform to share their views and experiences, Ms. Taylor said. This year’s first prize went to MVRHS graduating senior Annabelle Brothers.

“It’s... allowing the students to have a voice in the community in a way that would otherwise not be possible,” said Ms. Taylor.

“My mother was very much an advocate and a proponent of intergenerational relationships and friendships... and she, I think, would be smiling. These are the young, literary and journalistic voices of the future, and for them to be contemplative and thoughtful at this stage is a good thing,” she added.

Della Hardman Day begins at 4 p.m. July 29 under a tent in Ocean Park.