'Queen Quilts' at the African-American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey
Sometimes called “the original GPS of slaves heading north,” quilts were used to point those seeking freedom in the right direction, to tell them whether to stay put or move on, to wait for the arrival of a boat, to stop and spend the night safely and much more.
Thelma Gordy said she sewed while working full-time at the Atlantic City Medical Center for 25 years and raising a family, but she only found time to pursue quilting after retirement.
After four years with the Queens, she thoroughly enjoys her time with the other women each week when they work on their quilts, catch up on community news and share their political views.
Her daughter, Gail, also attends. Gail began quilting while living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she took a two-hour Introduction to Quilting class in an adult continuing education program. Later, while visiting a state fair with an aunt, Gail noticed the “phenomenal quilts at the fair” and decided to take up quilting once she returned home to Atlantic City.
Other women, like Pat Tweedle and Joann Lyons, who have been with the Queens from the beginning, and Yvonne Jordan said they always liked sewing or arts and crafts but took up quilting as a way to relax, keep their hands busy or to spread happiness inside (for herself) and outside (as gifts for others). Mr. Hunter also acquired quilts from long-time seamstress Muriel Greenidge, and a couple of his personal ones made in the late 1800s are part of the exhibit too. None of them are for sale, but there are some quilts for sale during the exhibit and prices vary widely.
I plan to get back out to the AAHMSNJ before December 15th when the exhibit ends.Two hours was not enough time to take in the breadth of beauty in this collection.
From this exhibit, you get a true feel for the wide range of patterns, colors and styles available to quilters. Hopefully, I won’t have to wait until retirement before I take up this obviously wonderful creative art, though looking at this exhibit as made me wonder if I have the skills to do so.
Agnes Galloway reassured me, “Knowing how to sew helps, but it isn’t necessary, because most folks these days do a lot of the work on a sewing machine. We have 10 machines and welcome anyone who wants to come. We’ll teach you.”
Turiya S.A. Raheem was born and raised in Atlantic City. Currently an English teacher at Atlantic Cape Community College, she loves to describe her neighborhood as “the other Atlantic City,” because it was not the casino-resort mecca most people know today. It was a place with a “cozy, down-home feeling” as she describes in her 2010 book, Growing Up in the Other Atlantic City: Wash’s and the Northside.
It was a great turnout and Ralph Hunter was in rare form last Saturday when the African-American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey was honored with the U.S. Postal Service’s unveiling of the Rosa Parks commemorative stamp on the 100th anniversary of her birth.
On Tuesday, Feb. 22, groundbreaking will commence on the newest Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian’s 19th museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, will occupy a five-acre site on Constitution Avenue between 14th and 15th streets N.W., between the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
A list of Black History Month related events in the Atlantic City region.
Plus the Album of the Week, Drew Toonz and upcoming shows at Stockton's PAC.
Over the last few months when families were gathering for all types of occasions, some of the young men in our family refused to attend because of “so many divorced couples and so few new marriages.” I was disappointed by their absence but understood their sentiments. Like many modern American families, we’ve had so many divorces now that one niece asked, “Is divorce a tradition in our family?”
As detailed in the Jan. 5 Atlantic City Weekly, a state-mandated Master Plan that outlines Atlantic City’s proposed Tourism District was given a Feb. 1 deadline by Gov. Chris Christie, one year to the date he signed the legislation designed to make the resort town a safer and more attractive place to visit.
Plus Drew Toonz, the Album of the Week (Tom Waits), and local ghost tours.
With the current focus on non-gaming, family-friendly and cultural attractions in Atlantic City's future, here are some of the reasons why Ralph Hunter and the AAHMSNJ should have a home in Atlantic City:
Each Friday acweekly.com presents a new episode in the "Atlantic City History: Conversations & Storytelling" web video series, inspired by HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" series, and featuring the conversations on six selected topics between Atlantic City historians Vicki Gold Levi, All "Boo" Pergament, Pinky Kravitz, Ralph Hunter, Jim Waltzer and Israel Posner.