It was a random email and sometimes I don’t get a chance to read through all the emails I get to give them the attention they deserve. This day I was and I am glad I did. It was calling for community support for a community project called the Lynch Quilt Projects. The title intrigued me enough to look further and go to the website.
I went to the website of Lashawnda Crow Storm and saw some images that took by breath away with the beautiful and yet horrific images of our history. The images that we as Black people often try to block out of our mind so that we can live in a world that feels normal and less cruel. Images that often are reminders that while we have come so far, the society we come from is so far down the barrel of disgusting that we might not ever be able to catch up. These are the collective memories that have plagued our race for so long and yet are some of the only pieces of history that we can relate to and we have in common. Knowing the history of our people in the States is what helps to define me as a Black person, so I never can forget how I got here and why it seems we have to always fight so hard.
I believe that part of the loss of a race starts with the slow progression of genocide where a race is removed from their roots and then has their history replaced with horrific images of what it means to be who they are. This has become our history and most of us know nothing personal about living as an African but we do know what it means to be Black in America.
This project, the Lynch Quilt Project, is a project that has a lot to do with healing some of the history in which we have come from. The website states, “The Lynch Quilts Project is a community-based effort, which explores the history and ramifications of racial violence, specifically lynching, in the United States through the textile tradition of quilting.”
I couldn’t imagine what a quilt, of all things, could do to capture the essence of something so serious, hurtful and powerful. It did and it does. The images of the quilt stunned me enough to want to share it with everyone and support this effort in capturing some of the most brutal parts of our history in a soft art form for some to heal from and others to learn from.
For a race that has struggled to define their existence from the absence of power and a place of internal self loathing, we have not always had the tools to reclaim our history in ways that are empowering. We see this with the use of the word Nigger and an attempt to claim it as ours. I say, let us instead use art to display the power of what we have endured and use it as a source of pride that our ancestors were beaten, raped, hung and sacrificed so that we may have a future that was beyond their capacity to see. If we can reclaim the power in our history, maybe we can save our selves from the self defeating behavior that continues to ravage through our race and claim the lives of our futures. IF WE CAN SEE POWER IN LIVING THROUGH THE HORRORS OF OUR BEAUTIFUL HISTORY WE CAN OWN THAT WE STILL LIVE ON DESPITE THE ODDS.
Isn’t that powerful? I think it is. So I propose we support community projects like this and live through the pain to regain pride.
Here are images of the first quilt, Her name is Laura Nelson. Due to copyright, I did not post pictures of the quilt but instead posted a picture of the actual hanging of Laura Nelson. You will be amazed at the quilt’s depiction of this photo. May Laura rest in peace.