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When ARLONZIA PETTWAY, 83, was a girl, in the 1920's and '30''s, quilts were everything. You needed -- maybe six or seven to pile on a cornshuck mattress in cold weather, to hang on the walls, to keep wind from blowing through the gaps between the logs and to spread on the floor, so the children could sit on them when they ate. The hogs under the house would stir up dust, that would float up through chinks in the floor. You didn't want dust in the children's food.  (June 2006) photo: Bill…

When ARLONZIA PETTWAY, 83, was a girl, in the 1920's and '30''s, quilts were everything. You needed -- maybe six or seven to pile on a cornshuck mattress in cold weather, to hang on the walls, to keep wind from blowing through the gaps between the logs and to spread on the floor, so the children could sit on them when they ate. The hogs under the house would stir up dust, that would float up through chinks in the floor. You didn't want dust in the children's food. (June 2006) photo: Bill…

Sistah quilt

Sistah quilt

NETTIE YOUNG, 92, the last surviving original member of the Gee's Bend quilting bee, speaks about how the Civil Rights Movement was wrapped in the fabric of these quilts.  "The Freedom Quilting Bee" was born in 1966, during the last years of the Civil Rights Movement.  "Y'all don't know where I came from, and I want people to know where I came from," she said. "I enjoyed it - I really did.  I thank God from what I've come through.  If y'all don't know what 'Blessed' is, this is Blessed."

NETTIE YOUNG, 92, the last surviving original member of the Gee's Bend quilting bee, speaks about how the Civil Rights Movement was wrapped in the fabric of these quilts. "The Freedom Quilting Bee" was born in 1966, during the last years of the Civil Rights Movement. "Y'all don't know where I came from, and I want people to know where I came from," she said. "I enjoyed it - I really did. I thank God from what I've come through. If y'all don't know what 'Blessed' is, this is Blessed."

Lucy Mingo of Gees Bend with one of her graphic quilts.  This woman is a Picasso of quilting, like some of the other women in Gees Bend.  It's like a fountain of genius in that town.

Lucy Mingo of Gees Bend with one of her graphic quilts. This woman is a Picasso of quilting, like some of the other women in Gees Bend. It's like a fountain of genius in that town.

Lola Jenkins

Lola Jenkins

Lonnie Holley, LOUSIANNA P. BENDOLPH, (Gees Bend, Alabama)  Thornton Dial and MARY LEE BENDOLPH (Gees Bend, Alabama)  |    Dial and Holley were both raised by women and have made women and women's roles in African American life a central theme of their art.  (July 18, 2006. Photo:Matt Arnett.)

Lonnie Holley, LOUSIANNA P. BENDOLPH, (Gees Bend, Alabama) Thornton Dial and MARY LEE BENDOLPH (Gees Bend, Alabama) | Dial and Holley were both raised by women and have made women and women's roles in African American life a central theme of their art. (July 18, 2006. Photo:Matt Arnett.)

New members with their quilts

New members with their quilts

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