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THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD QUILT SPEECH

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Last night, I talked about the UGR Quilt I had made for my friend Pat at the Cultural Awareness committee meeting at the chamber of commerce. We showed my quilt and I talked about how I got into it, etc. It is Black History Month so it fell right in. I'm attaching a the article I wrote and presented most of, talking not reading.


AFRICAN AMERICAN QUILT MAKING AND THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD


A griot (pronounced GREE oh) is a West African Storyteller who is trained to memorize records and tell stories about births, deaths, marriages and cultural traditions in the African village. We all became familiar with the Griot when we watched Alex Haley’s ROOTS and saw Alex meeting with the griot in the village of his ancestor, Kunta Kintah! It is through this century’s long tradition that we learn about the Underground Railroad and how quilts and the messages they conveyed, helped the slaves to escape to freedom.

I have always loved to sew and have been interested in quilt making for a very long time. I have dabbled in the craft and I collect books and magazines featuring articles on quilts. In the late 90’s, I was cruising around on Amazon.com looking for something to read on quilting and sewing when up popped this small book, HIDDEN IN PLAIN VIEW; A secret story of quilts and the underground railroad! This got my attention because I’ve also been interested in slavery and how life was for people in those days.

The book HIDDEN IN PLAIN VIEW describes the author, Jacqueline L. Tobin, and her encounter with an African American woman named Ozella McDaniel Williams in Charleston, South Carolina. Ozella had a booth full of quilts at the local street market and while Tobin was looking at them, Ozella said, “Did you know that quilts were used by slaves to communicate on the Underground Railroad?” From that point on, Tobin researched and wrote this book. I devoured it, was fascinated by it and tucked the information away until it came back and spoke to me last summer. I decided to take a quilting class at the local store, Sewing Center Around the Block. While looking around the shop at the beautiful fabrics, a pattern book caught my eye. It was called UNDERGROUND RAILROAD SAMPLER by Eleanor Burns, a dedicated quilter, a white woman. In the introduction she describes her encounter with the book HIDDEN IN PLAIN VIEW and how she had always been interested in the Underground Railroad as well. I picked up that pattern book and went home with it.

I loved my quilting class and I rekindled my love of sewing and quilt making. I decided that I would attempt to make an Underground Railroad Quilt for my friend Pat. It just seemed like the next logical project for me. I would hone my quilting skills and create a meaningful gift as well. Once in November, while taking our neighborhood walk, Pat and I were talking about quilts and she said that maybe I could make one for her some day. Little did she know that I was frantically working on the Underground Railroad Quilt, managing to finish it on Christmas Eve, just in time!

There has been some consensus from scholars about the validity of this legend, whether quilts were actually used as messages for escaping slaves. But going back to the traditions of the griot, and how African Americans learned by talking to each other about legends and lore, it is not hard to believe that this could actually happen. There are few surviving quilts from that period as proof. However, it is known that slave women were skilled seamstresses who helped their mistresses with quilting and sewing for the household. They would make quilts for their own families out of feed sacks, worn out clothing and fabric scraps. Quilts were necessities for warmth and shelter and after being washed many times with harsh lye soap, they would fall apart. There is history about an African American woman, originally a slave named Harriet Powers. She communicated with the world through an oral and visual history of quilts, using narrative themes of events in her life. (taken from STITCHED FROM THE SOUL by Gladys-Marie Fry)
Harriet was skilled in the art of appliqué, which is a technique where small pieces of cloth are sewn to another piece of cloth to create a figure or story. This technique was brought by male slaves from Africa who were skilled in the art of appliqué and the slave women continued this type of needlework. It is through Harriet Powers’ quilts and history that we can understand how the oral tradition of telling stories is recorded by slaves who were not taught to read and write.
There are fifteen quilt sampler blocks in Eleanor Burns quilt pattern book. These blocks were derived from the oral history knowledge and story of Ozella Williams. Each block gives a message to the escaping slave on where he should go and what he should do next. This history derived from HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT goes like this:

“The monkey wrench turns the wagon wheel toward Canada. With help from Jesus, the Carpenter, follow the Bears’ Trail through the woods. Fill your baskets with enough food and supplies to get you to the Crossroads. Once you get to the crossroads, dig a log cabin in the ground. Shoofly told us to dress up in cotton and satin bow ties. Follow the flying geese and birds in the air; stay on the drunkard’s path. Take the Sailboat across the Great Lakes to the North Star above Canada.”

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LKWQUILTER 2/25/2011 10:17AM

    Thanks for sharing the quilt and the story. Both are beautiful.

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QUILTINGB52 2/24/2011 8:25AM

    Thank you for sharing your quilt and the history behind the Underground Railroad.

My parents were in West Africa when Alex Hailey's book came out. My parents actually knew some of his ancestors and had easy access to the villages. It made his book even more meaningful to them.

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WALKINGGRANDMA 2/23/2011 10:39PM

    The quilt is beautiful and the story is touching. I love the thought that you can communicate in a "language" that is plain but no one understands unless they know the words. It just looks normal unless you understand. I'm sure they did.

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ILLINITEACHER52 2/23/2011 5:41PM

  Very interesting! What a wonderful quilt to receive as a gift!

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ELSEEBEE 2/23/2011 4:42PM

    Ever since I read your first posts some months ago about Underground quilts, I've been thinking about buying the book you mentioned. On Saturday I was visiting a little quilt shop I love in a town I don't get too very often. There was that little book! So now I have it and can't wait to get started on it. I have Eleanor Burn's pattern book, so that's on my "to-do" list! I loved your speech- wish I could have heard it in person! Thanks for sharing!
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GCHUNG 2/23/2011 2:26PM

    Great job!! Love the story - thank you for sharing

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ELLIE381 2/23/2011 1:58PM

    Very interesting. Love the quilt.

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1BEARWIFE 2/23/2011 1:48PM

    I wish I could have been there with my Great-Grandmother's Diary. I know I would have been terribly moved by your talk and presentation. emoticon

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Hard to start again!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I decided to eat sensibly yesterday and I did but I sure blew it in the points category when I tracked my WW points. Close to 40 for the one day and I thought I was doing well. Too many carbs and not enough fruit, veg and protein. I'll try and do better today. That's all I can do, better each day. I did go out for a walk this morning for about a mile. Pat didn't show so I turned around and went home. I was hungry last night and wanted a pop tart in the worst way. My stomach was growling but I was good and said no. This morning, back to the raisin bran muffin. I've got to get my fruit in today.

Not much else going on.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REJ7777 2/16/2011 6:01AM

    I agree that it's hard to start over. But you can do it! The only way to fail is to give up. (I'm talking to myself here too.)

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IRENEHUD 2/15/2011 8:40PM

    It's easy to go over your points when you don't eat fruits and veges. Your on the right track though you can do it! emoticon

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DONNAEDA 2/15/2011 9:56AM

    remember this is not a race, but a journey. Everyday is a new day to begin again.

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KASEYCOFF 2/15/2011 9:20AM

    I think it will help that you're working to be more aware of what you're eating and where you need to add things, like the fruit and veg. Baby-steps, 'cause ALL progress is GOOD progress--!!!
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BUGGYS 2/15/2011 9:08AM

    Every day is a new start. I'm on WW too and tend to use those extra 49 on the weekend although I have never gone over those points yet...I love the new program because I am getting in my fruits and veggies...I usually have them for my snacks and by doing so, I am satisfied between meals. I've only been on WW since the beginning of the year but have found that my cravings have subsided a great deal! Good luck and good for you for getting back on track today! emoticon

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KENTUCKYWOMAN 2/15/2011 9:07AM

    4dognight. First off congrats on tracking, on getting out for that walk this morning and for not having that pop tart. All these are positive things.

One thing I really like about the new points plus plan with WW is fruit is free. Fresh fruit, free, canned fruit in its own juices free, unsweetened frozen fruits free. So when that ''I want something hits," go for the fruit.

You can do this and you are worth the effort.

Hugs,
Joan

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TIME TO START AGAIN?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Well I spent all year losing 8 lbs only to gain it back in a few months! I think it is time to start again. Since Christmas, I've been on an eating and traveling and partying frenzy and it is time to slow down! Why is it when you go out to a party and you have paid money, you think you have to eat your money's worth? Friday, 8 of the singing valentines from my husband's barbershop group sang for happy hour at the yacht club. Then we all stayed for dinner and the prime rib covered the plate! Saturday night was the annual Mardi Gras party and I came home feeling so stuffed, ooh! You know the feeling. Then Saturday morning after church, there was a beautiful Valentine' Brunch at the Yacht club and we took my friend Pat and my motheer-in-law. It was a beautiful sunny day, in the 50's and I again left there feeling like a stuffed bunny. I stopped at the grocery store on the way home and got a huge jar of citrucel. Then I did not eat again until about 6:00 when I had a bowl of cream of wheat. This morning it's a raisin bran muffin, a large one so probably more points or calories but I am going to track it. I am upping my fiber, fruit and veggie intake and I am going to the grocery store today and getting food for a nice valentine's dinner. May be I've reached the breaking point again! The point at which I do not want my weight to go above.

I brought some magazines home from my mom-in-laws yesterday and of course they all have diet info. One of the tips always is do not weigh. This is dumb! I have to keep that weight in front of me at all times or else I love track of it. Which is what has happened! So today I am starting over again! Later!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DTOWNSEND1966 2/20/2011 2:54PM

    I'm starting all over and it isn't even 15 or 20, try about 60. There are three reasons: 1) I stopped weighing myself (while failing to pay attention to clothes getting tighter) 2) I stopped exercising. and 3) I stopped tracking what I was eating.

Well done for getting it back in gear after 8 pounds! and by all means, weigh in to keep track of progress!

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EBETH13 2/14/2011 11:24AM

    Yep, I sure do know that feeling!!! I'm starting over again this year, too.

Don't weigh yourself?????? What is that all about, I need to know each week, if not every other day!!!

Get sparked!!!

Hugs
Ebeth

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KASEYCOFF 2/14/2011 10:14AM

    Re starting over: it's never too late, and there's no time like the present. Yes, I know they're cliches, but the reason they've become cliches is because they are true. You know what to do (and what advice to ignore, like 'do not weigh'!) and you know how to do it. Like Nike says - just do it. 'cause I know you CAN! And so do YOU!
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DONNAEDA 2/14/2011 10:09AM

    welcome back to the team and your food plan. Okay, so you gained 8 pounds, it isn't 15 or 20. Get on the stick and start tracking and weighing/measuring portions. You can lose it and then some.

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BLOGGINGS AND MUSINGS!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I hope some of my friends read this and say hello. I'm just musing today about things. Yesterday, my grandaughter stayed with me as she had a stomach ache. You know as a 9 year old how stomach aches come and go and then you stay home from school and you didn't really need to? I wasn't real busy so I was happy to have her. I did have to go and see a client so I took her over to my mom-in-law, Grammie, at the retirement home at 10:00. Then we both had lunch with her and she showed us off to all of her friends. Those old people just love to see children come in. Then in the afternoon, I decided to help her make her Mommy a gift for Valentine's Day. I had some printable fabric that can be ironed on to other fabric so I printed off a picture of Hannah and her baby brother. It was a little smudgy but you could see who it was. Then Hannah and I found some red fabric and I had a 10 inch pillow and we pressed the picture onto the red fabric. Then I sewed a square for the pillow. I also had a scrap of fabric with hearts on it and we cut them out and ironed them onto the pillow. When her mommy came, she had a gift and Hannah was so excited. She didn't do much of it but watched the whole time so at least I am exposing her to sewing.
We ate dinner at home last night and then had to go out and buy a new alarm clock. The last one was about 20 years old and just quit. Have to get used to this thing but it has a feature where it automatically knows what the time is.
I have not paid attention to any sort of a diet for some time. I have not weighed either. I know I may have gained a few pounds back but I'm not worried or stressed about it. I know I will get back to the grind but I just need a break. I'm still trying to pay attention to what I'm eating and stop when I'm full. Yesterday at lunch, Hannah was full and stopped eating and I told her that was a good thing to learn, stop eating when you are full. And we talked about feeling stuffed at eating too much sometimes. She said she didn't feel like that but it is never too early to teach things. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full.
I keep reading things about people who diet all the time and continually restart and regain, will find it harder to lose the next time as the body clock resets itself. I know that is what I have done to myself. And a complete change to stick to it is necessary. And I also read the 3 body type story again this morning. I guess I am an endomorph for sure and will never be any different. My friend Pat and I had a really good walking thing going for a couple of years and we have really sluffed off. She is starting to have aches and pains and I'm not getting any younger so this morning we agreed to trudge on out at 6:30. Oh, I didn't want to. It was cold and it rained all night and I couldn't find my clothes but I knew I was not going to dissapoint her so I found some ridiculous looking short mid-calf stretch pants to put on and my husbands tights under them, a sweatshirt and t-shirt and threw on a coat and gloves. I needed every bit of that. When she saw me coming she thought, "what is she wearing?" When my husband tells me that it isn't cold outside, I know that means put on all the clothes you can find because it is really freezing.
One of these days I am going to finally download the pictures from Niagara Falls and post them on here to share. We had a fabulous time and it will show in the pictures. I really need to get going as I have some work things to do so later.


  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KSHAGGY 2/10/2011 3:33PM

    Great day of sharing with your granddaughter!

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ILUVTOTAT 2/10/2011 3:20PM

    The pillow sounds just wonderful! It sounds like you had a great time.

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KASEYCOFF 2/10/2011 12:41PM

    Glad you had time to spend with your granddaughter - many of my favorite memories are of times I spent with my grandmothers, so I bet she loves it when she gets to stay with you for the day!

When it comes to losing... regaining... aging... and aches and pains, there's nothing new under the sun, is there? lol... Nothing new when men say 'It's not all that cold out' either. Himself is exactly the same. If he says 'Bit chilly, I think I'll put a sweater on' I can now translate that to mean 'If you have a heavy parka with hood - WEAR IT!'

Niagara Falls: oh yes please! I am really looking forward to your pictures!
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KARENE10 2/10/2011 10:06AM

    Valentine gift sounds very nice and great job on the walking!!!

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STUDLEEJOE 2/10/2011 9:26AM

    nice post

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I'VE BEEN MISSING THIS YEAR!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

I've decided I've been so busy with extracurricular activities that the diet is blown out the window and haven't weighed this year. After we returned from Niagara Falls on Sunday (I still intend to share that with you) I have been on roller skates catching up with business, family, and everything else. Yesterday, after the first friday coffee of the Chamber of Commerce, I drove to a client's home to leave a light fixture only to find her not home. Then I drove back to my home. A few minutes at the computer updating some business things that needed to be attended to and then nap time. I hadn't slept much the night before. Then up, finished a few bill paying efforts and then I decided that I was just taking the rest of the day off. I ventured into my sewing room and tackled the second quilt block from Patriots and Petticoats, my Block of the Month. Finished it in about 2 hours and just enjoyed myself immensely. I cut one of the fabrics wrong and didn;t have enough so I learned the art of piecing some triangles and substituting a different fabric for the center square. I even like it better than the one that was supposed to be there.
I'm about to go back in there this morning and clean up the place. It needs it. But I've been spending time watching a video on nbc.com about Vanessa Williams searching for her roots! It was fascinating and a perfect intro to black history month. What is a white middle aged woman doing celebrating black history month? THat is another story.
Anyway, if you didn't get a chance to watch the new NBC show, Who do you think you are? Watch it on www.nbc.com and look for the Vanessa Williams episode. So interesting. Ties in with my interest in slavery and the Underground Railroad Quilt I made for my friend Pat. I think I'll write a story about it and send it into to Reader's Digest. Who knows?
Got to go. I'm anxious to get into that sewing room and get it organized!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DR1939 2/5/2011 12:45PM

    There is an outstanding Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnati, OH. Worth visiting Cincinnati for.

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KASEYCOFF 2/5/2011 11:31AM

    There's a scene in 'Through the Looking Glass' where Alice is running with the Red Queen, flat out, as fast as they can go. When they're so out of breath they can't run anymore, Alice looks around and says something like 'We've been running but we're still in the same place!' and the Red Queen says 'It takes all the running you can do just to stay in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run twice as fast!'

I often feel like that - running as hard as I can barely enables me to keep up, but I never get ahead. From your description of your busy days, you must feel like that sometimes too, lol--!

I love 'Who Do You Think You Are.' It started here, and has been on the air for something like eight or nine years, I think. They started showing some of the American versions last year (I was able to see Sarah Jessica Parker's, Brook Shields, and Matthew Broderick's - and really enjoyed them). I'm hoping they show this season's as well, because I'd like to see the one with Vanessa Williams. We joined Ancestry.com two years ago, and I still haven't gotten tired of it. In fact, he's on the other computer, doing some research even as I Spark!
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