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Black History Month Paraments

In February 2023, one way we celebrated Black History Month was by adding to our collection of Chancel Liturgical Paraments.

Pulpit and Lectern
The Pulpit and Lectern paraments were made from fabrics that represent four different African cloths: Ankara, Kittenge, Kente, and Bogolan Mud.

· Ankara cloth is 100% cotton and was historically sourced from female-owned small businesses in West Africa. In East Africa this cloth was called Kittenge cloth. In both cases, the fabric tells stories, may have hidden meanings, and the colors are very vibrant. The method of printing these fabrics is called the Dutch Wax Process, and dates from the mid-1800s.

· Bogolan Mud Cloth is made exclusively by men. The process starts by handweaving fabric that is usually off-white in color. The fabric is dyed with fermented mud and plant dyes, taking up to 4 days to make a length of cloth. Colors are yellow with black, red and brown.

· Kente cloth, which is Ghana’s National fabric, is also a woven fabric. Usually with very bold colors that have specific meaning:

gold = Status/ serenity
silver = the moon
yellow = fertility
green = renewal
blue = peace/harmony
red = passion
black = union with ancestors

Communion Table – Adaptation of a Gee’s Bend Quilt
The Quilters from Gee’s Bend were located near a mostly geographically isolated community southeast of Selma, Alabama. The resident’s ancestors worked the cotton plantations, first as slaves, then for several generations as tenant farmers living in log cabins that they built themselves. The Gee’s Bend Quilters are internationally known. During the 1960s, Gee’s Bend played an important role in the Civil Rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Gee’s Bend to preach on the eve of his march in Selma, and mules from Gee’s Bend pulled his casket after his death.

From the AHCC Hill Quilters
This quilt was based on an original made in 1966 by Sadie Bell Nelson (1936-1981), a Gee’s Bend quilter. Sadie’s original quilt is 85” x 77”. Kay Carver thinks most likely Sadie used very few tools such as scissors, thread, a needle, and maybe card-board hand-made templates as it was hand pieced. It is a phenomenal piece of work! The Hill Quilters were honored and humbled to plan and share this adaptation. Krystina Carver, assisted her mother Kay in making the adaptation of this quilt.

This quilt has been adjusted to fit the Communion table. There were several changes that had to occur as most of the fabrics that Sadie used are not readily available. Kay chose modern 100% cotton fabrics. It is pieced with 100% cotton thread. Fabrics were chosen that follow as much as possible to Sadie’s intent. The middle of the quilt shows the Monkey Wrench quilt block. There are several variations to this block. It is thought that if there was quilt or a block shown, it meant that tools and belongings were being gathered for a long hazardous trip.

SILHOUETTE #1 – Harriet Tubman
Kay Carver also wanted to do a silhouette piece. At the suggestion of Carol Vinick, Harriet Tubman was chosen. Carol Vinick provided a small silhouette drawing that was enlarged and used as the template.

SILHOUETTE #2 – John Lewis
Plans are in the works to have this quilt added for February 2025. Once both silhouettes are completed, they will be hung on the woodwork in the upper chancel.

AHCC would like to thank the Hill Quilters and the Music and Arts Committee for their support. Also, Carol Vinick (Quilt Artist), Africka Hinds, and Gwen Lewis, who graciously provided her books for Kay Carver to study and gifted Kay a collection of postcards of “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend.”