Mrs. Richard’s African American Literature class is working on a quilting unit as part of a study of African American literacy under slavery. Their design cycle experience on quilting came out of the students' interest in alternative forms of literacy. While studying Frederick Douglass, the students remarked on the injustice of anti-literacy laws, which prevented slaves from learning to read and write. As a result of these laws, alternate literacies such as the oral tradition, quilt codes, and spiritual codes began to emerge. For example, the underground railroad used quilt codes to signal important messages to runaway slaves. The class decided to study these literacies with more depth, and even visited the Amistad Research Center on Tulane's campus to further research these alternate literacies in the archives available there. As a result of their research, the class decided to develop their own quilt code based on various principles of equality. After designing the code, they are now in the process of physically piecing together the blocks. 

On December 3, they will participate in a quilting bee where they will pray over their stitches as they offer up the intentions of various members of our school community. This cross-curricular DCE has drawn on our study of literature, American history, visual arts and design, mathematics, and Catholic social teaching. This project absolutely would not be possible without the help of Mrs. Kim Schultz, who volunteered to teach the whole class the basic principles of sewing and quilting. The class hopes the quilt will be on display for the December art show, Spotlight on the Arts. 


More on this project:

Amistad Research Center Field Trip

The First Quilting Lesson