A Lesson in Overcoming Prejudice through Story and Song


As a culmination to their Black History Month studies, students at Glen Cove High School welcomed singer/songwriter Vinny St. Marten. He shared his unique story of being raised in the Orchard section of Glen Cove during the 1950's at the height of segregation.

Vinny lost his eyesight to glaucoma at the age of seven. He spoke about growing up at a time when prejudice and racism were an acceptable part of everyday life. Even though Vinny couldn't see, it didn't stop him from hating. When he attended Glen Cove High School, a classmate named Roy was assigned to help him get around during the school day. When Vinny found out that Roy was black, he was shocked. Vinny said, "It was too late to hate him. He was my friend." Vinny and his musical partner, Elysa Sunshine, showed an original music video called "Think About It," which reenacts Vinny's experiences with Roy. The loss of his sight actually opened up Vinny's vision to the prejudice that plagued the community at the time.

Vinny also told the students about befriending a young, foster child, who lived in the Orchard. His name was Walter. He was born with a horribly disfigured face and endured unrelenting bullying. Vinny's blindness allowed him to get to know, "one of God's most beautiful creations." Walter, in turn, helped Vinny experience the joys of childhood; playing baseball, building a hut, touching a frog.

“I wouldn't give up my blindness for anything in the world,” said Mr. St. Marten, who also goes by his given last name, Basile. He shared his story with all juniors at Glen Cove High School.

Students at Finley Middle School will also be treated to an assembly from Mr. Marten in the near future.