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Binding Us Together: Quilts of the African Diaspora: Children's Books

The purpose of this guide is to highlight resources related to quilting in the United States, on the African continent, and throughout the African Diaspora. Guide by Tracy Crawford.

Works from the Schomburg Children's Collection

Collection Highlights

Book cover of I lay my stitches down : poems of American slavery.

I Lay My Stitches Down

This rich and intricate collection of poems chronicles the various experiences of American slaves. Drawn together through imagery drawn from quilting and fiber arts, each poem is spoken from a different perspective: a house slave, a mother losing her daughter to the auction block, a blacksmith, a slave fleeing on the Underground Railroad. This moving and eloquent set of poems, brought to life by vivid and colorful artwork from Michele Wood, offers a timeless witness to the hardship endured by America's slaves. Each poem is supplemented by a historical note.

Book cover of Tar Beach.

Tar Beach

Illus. in full color. "Ringgold recounts the dream adventure of eight-year-old Cassie Louise Lightfoot, who flies above her apartment-building rooftop, the 'tar beach' of the title, looking down on 1939 Harlem. Part autobiographical, part fictional, this allegorical tale sparkles with symbolic and historical references central to African-American culture. The spectacular artwork resonates with color and texture. Children will delight in the universal dream of mastering one's world by flying over it. A practical and stunningly beautiful book."--(starred) Horn Book.nbsp;nbsp;

Book cover of Eliza's freedom road : an Underground Railroad diary.

Eliza's Freedom Road

It is 1852 in Alexandria, Virginia. Eliza's mother has been sent away and it is Abbey, the cook, who looks after Eliza, when Eliza isn't taking care of the Mistress. Eliza has the quilt her mother left her and the memory of the stories she told to keep her close. When her Mistress's health begins to fail and Eliza overhears the Master talk of Eliza being traded, Eliza takes to the night. She follows the path and the words of the farmhand Old Joe, " ... travel the night ... sleep the day. Go East. Your back to the set of the sun until you come to the safe house where the candlelight lights the window." All the while, Eliza recites the stories her mother taught her along her Freedom Road from Maryland to St. Catherine's, Canada.

Book cover of Stitchin' and pullin' : a Gee's Bend quilt.

Stitchin' and Pullin'

MOTHER AND DAUGHTER, grandmother and granddaughter, aunt and niece, friend and friend. For a hundred years, generations of women from Gee’s Bend have quilted together, sharing stories, trading recipes, singing hymns—all the while stitchin’ and pullin’ thread through cloth. Every day Baby Girl listens, watches, and waits, until she’s called to sit at the quilting frame. Piece by piece, she puzzles her quilt together—telling not just her story, but the story of her family, the story of Gee’s Bend, and the story of her ancestors’ struggle for freedom.

Faith Ringgold Reads "Tar Beach"

Michelle Wood Discusses "I Lay My Stitches Down"

Jerdine Nolen Discusses "Eliza's Freedom Road"

Patricia McKissack Honored for "Stitchin' and Pullin'"

"Sewing a quilt. Gee's Bend, Alabama"

Image name Sewing a quilt. Gees Bend, Alabama, Jennie Pettway and another girl with the quilter Jorena Pettway.

Sewing a quilt. Gees Bend, Alabama
Jennie Pettway and another girl with the quilter Jorena Pettway
1937 Apr.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives.

"The Quilted Conscience" Documentary