Remembering and Honoring Our Own for Black History Month
Janice Hale Benson, Professor of Early Childhood Education, 1948 - 2017
The melting pot is finished. America is a patchwork quilt where all ethnic groups stand side by side.
--Janice Hale Benson, Black Child in Education, 1986
Janice was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Columbus East High school, Class of 1966. She received a B.A. degree from Spelman College in sociology and elementary education, a Masters of Religious Education degree from the Interdenominational Theological Center, and a PhD. From Georgia State University in early education.
Dr. Hale taught at Clark College, University of California (San Diego), Jackson State University, Cleveland State University, Yale University, and most recently, Wayne State University (Detroit, Michigan where she was also Founding Director of the Institute for the Study of the African American Child (ISAAC), a civil rights organization designed to close the achievement gap that affects African American children.
Dr. Hale has served as a speaker and consultant to numerous colleges, professional organizations and early childhood education programs across the United States and Jamaica. She also served as a consultant to the Children's Television Workshop programs Sesame Street and Mister Roger's Neighborhood.
Dr. Hale has written numerous articles in her field and has written three books. Her first book, Black Children: Their Roots, Culture, and Learning Styles, appeared in the fall of 1982 and issued in a revised edition by The Johns Hopkins University Press in 1986. Her second book, Unbank the Fire: Visions for the Education of African American Children, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Dr. Hale's third book, Learning While Black: Creating Educational Excellence for African American Children, was released in the Winter of 2001 and also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Dr. Hale has been the recipient of numerous honors, including Distinguished Alumna of the School of Education at Georgia State University (1982), Spelman College Alumna Achievement Award (2007), and Spelman College Blue Diamond Award (2008). She was also recognized as one of 50 future leaders in Ebony Magazine's August 1978 issue on the New Generation as well as for her outstanding contributions to education by the Detroit Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women (1994).
East High Alumni. 1917. "We Remember." Retrieved February 2, 2021. https://myemail.constantcontact.com/East-High-Alumni-Announcement.html?soid=1110349282007&aid=JG79edIripg
Benson, Janice Hale. 1986. "Black child in Education." In My Soul Looks Back, 'Less I Forget, edited by Dorthy Winbush Riley, 265. New York: HarperCollings Publisher, Inc.
Trip Around The World
Trip Around the World Quilt, 78” x 75”, Estella Weaver Nukes, c. 1936, The American Museum in Britain
This quilt was made by Mrs. Estella Nukes and the African American women of the Works Projects Administration (WPA) in Marion, Indiana, to show their appreciation to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It is assumed the ladies honored the President's passion for stamp collecting with this quilt made entirely of postage stamp size pieces. Surprisingly, the quilt was never registered as a gift in the White House records, but a Postage Stamp quilt of this description was listed as part of the Roosevelt estate. The quilt was passed to Eleanor Roosevelt’s grandson in 1941, who in turn donated it to the American Museum in Britain.
The Trip Around the World quilt pattern, (sometimes known as Sunshine and Shadows, Postage Stamp, or Grandma’s Dream), was a very popular depression era pattern because it could be made with small pieces of scrap fabric. By the 1930s, quilting was no longer just a passive activity for those who could afford it. Textile manufacturing, feed sacks, and repurposed clothing made fabrics readily available to everyone. Quilting was done out of the necessity to keep the family warm and to make do. The quilt below is a beautiful example of a depression era Trip Around the World made from scraps. The yellow and red contrast is stunning.
Sunshine and Shadows Quilt, 80” x 66”, c. 1930-1940, owned by Rosemary Tureaud who lived in Washington State.
Mrs. Rosemary Tureaud inherited this quilt made by her grandmother, Eula Mae Brim, of Arkadelphia, Arkansas. The quilt is hand sewn and quilted. It is not known exactly when Eula created this quilt but the fabrics appear to come from the 1930s - 40s, if not later.
Eula Mae Brim, b. 1895 - d. 1977
Eula Mae married Love (Mannie) Brim in 1912. She and Mannie were sharecroppers who migrated between Arkansas and Louisiana. They moved around as they found work and lodging. They finally settled in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, bought a farm, and raised seven sons.
Bell-Kite, Diana, 2015. "Quilting Part IV: The Great Depression." North Carolina Museum of History, 2015.
Kyra E. Hicks, Franklin Roosevelt's Postage stamp Quilt. Arlington, VA: Black Threads Press, 2012.
Turtle On A Quilt
Turtle on a Quilt - Encyclopedia of Pieced Patterns #1479
Barbara Brackman, Encyclopedia of Pieced Patterns, (Paducah, KY: American Quilters Society, 1993), 192-193
From 1928 to 1961, over 1,000 sewing and embroidery patterns were published in the Kansas City Star newspaper and its succeeding Weeklies. This Turtle on a Quilt pattern was first published in the Kansas City Star in 1943, and again as a Terrapin in 1949. It later appeared in 1960 in the Weekly Star Farmer Oklahoma/Arkansas Edition as the Turtle Quilt pattern. As was the habit of the day, many quilters clipped and saved these patterns. Trading amongst neighbors and quilting bees was also very common.
Snapping Turtle Quilt, 42” x 70”, c. 1974, owned by Ms. Beverly Miller of Tacoma, WA
This quilt was made by Ms. Beverly Miller's grandmother, Idonia Holmes. Mama Idonia, as she was known, was born in 1900 and lived in Hope, Arkansas. She was a homemaker, elevator operator, and a midwife. To her family, she was a real character who drank a beer and ate a raw onion everyday.
Mama Idonia made sure everyone in the family had one of her quilts. She made many from old dresses and shirts she did not wear anymore. All were hand stitched and quilted as she never owned a sewing machine. Mama Idonia also liked to make her own quilt patterns. She often traced patterns and traded with her neighbors. It is very possible this quilt was made with some version of the Star's 1960 Turtle Quilt pattern. To make it unique, she purposely left one turtle without a tail.
Beverly has lived in Tacoma most of her life. She's been a Realtor for over 21 years and works for John L. Scott Realty.
McCathron, Nettie, Quilt. Blocks from The Kansas City Star. San Marcos, CA: ASN Publishing, 1987.
1000 Vintage Kansas City star Newspaper Quilt Patterns,The Secret library of Forgotten Knowledge, CD-ROM
Turkey Red Cutwork, circa 1865, unknown maker
I found this Turkey Red Cutwork quilt on display at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum last year.
This fabulous Turkey red and white quilt was made by unnamed black and white needlewomen. It is entirely hand pieced and hand quilted with a snowflake like design that has stunning impact when viewed from a distance.
86 Lashes To Go...
from the Telling Our Stories, Museum of Mississippi History, quilted Slave Series. Mississippi passed its own slave code governing slaves, free negroes, and mulottos in 1823. The code restricted slave movements and activities, while protecting masters’ property rights. Slave punishments included lashes on the bare back, burned hands, maiming, and death.
The following quilts are just a few pieces made by Gwendolyn A. Magee, 2010.+
86 Lashes To Go, 2010
pieced, quilted, and appliqèd cotton with mesh-braided rope and cord trim.
Can be found on display in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
You Ain't Go Run No More Boy...
"One of the punishments sometimes applied to slaves with multiple escape attempts."
- Gwendolyn A. Magee, 2010
Collection of the Mississippi Museum of Art. Purchase, with funds from the McCravey Fund, 2013.021"
Spill It Gal And You'll Lick It Up...
"Even children as young as four were pressed into service for even the nastiest of tasks, such as the emptying of chamber pots or slop jars; nor did their tender age afford any understanding for mistakes or offer any protection to them from horrific punishments."
-Gwendolyn A. Magee, 2010
Spill It Gal And You'll Lick It Up, pieced appliquèd, and quilted cotton, rayon, and organdy with cording.
Collection of the Mississippi Museum of Art. Purchase, with funds from the McCravey Fund, 2013.016.
A Stitch in Time... The Freedom Quilt
The Freedom Quilt was made in 1975 by Jessie Bell Williams. It is an expression of her experiences during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. She lost her job as a cafeteria worker at an elementary school when her employer found out she had registered to vote. The quilt is an affirmation of her personal freedoms and a statement about the freedoms guaranteed to all Americans.
Made by Jessie Bell Willliams
c. 1975, 73" x 87"