Monday, November 5, 2012

Exercise Your Freedom to Vote

Please vote!  Your vote will count this year. The 2004 election hung on 500 votes. This election will be a tossup, too. Make a plan, locate parking, hitch a ride, but, above all, go early, and leave yourself a LOT of time!

To soothe my election week nerves, I clicked around on political quilts and came across this one:

It was made in 1986 by Georgia quilter Jessie Tellfair. Now in the collection of the American Museum of Folk Art, the Museum's description says
"This is one of several freedom quilts that Jessie Telfair made as a response to losing her job after she attempted to register to vote. It evokes the civil rights era through the powerful invocation of one word, 'freedom,' formed from bold block letters along a horizontal axis. Mimicking the stripes of the American flag, it is unclear whether the use of red, white, and blue is ironic or patriotic, or both." 
How sad that 26 years later, thugs in high positions are still trying to block minorities from voting. People marched and died for voting rights. We owe it to the heros and martyrs of the Civil Rights era to exercise that freedom.

If you live anywhere near Boca Raton (appropriately, in the swing state of Florida, where elections are again chaotic), that's where the quilt above is currently on display, along with 20 others. The name of the exhibit: "Politics NOT as Usual: Quilts With Something To Say". The curator was quoted in the local paper saying:
"American women could not vote before 1920, and quilting provided an accepted social and political outlet for those who could not otherwise overtly express their opinions." 

Another fascinating site: African-American quilter/writer Kyra Hicks' Pinterest political quilts page. Along with quilts, there's also Obama fabric - some from U.S. companies, some from Africa. Though skewed to Obama, there's a Romney quilt, and several antiques. Fascinating garments too, including these paper (!?) Nixon dresses!

Why paper? I do not know! It was long before Spoonflower!

And while we're looking at stunning red-and-white political graphics, here's a donkey quilt made by an African-American  Arkansas quilter, Beatrice Williamson, around 1933:

The site explains the significance of donkey quilts, particularly to black voters, and how their allegiance shifted over time from the party of Lincoln, the Republicans, in the mid-19th century, to the Democrats during the Franklin Roosevelt administration. Both Democratic and Republican leaders were, at various times, engaged in shameful efforts to disenfranchise black voters

America has made huge strides since the donkey quilt of the 1930s  and even the 1980's freedom quilt above it. But we still have much more to do to make voting fair and available for all citizens. 

Your vote is precious. Use it!


  1. Great post...I put it on my Facebook page..

  2. Glad you enjoyed it! It was fun looking at so many vintage political quilts.

  3. This is such an awesome post. Thank you! Now, Denyse Schmidt's "Vote" quilt from 2016 would fit right in!

    1. Thanks, Jessica! Your quilts would fit right in, too!


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