On March 26, 1966, sixty Black women agrarian-artisans from villages throughout the Alabama Black Belt including Alberta, Gee’s Bend, Possum Bend, Polk Junction, and Selma gathered at Antioch Baptist Church to form the Freedom Quilting Bee, a quilting cooperative birthed out of the Civil Rights Movement. With a collective determination to build an alternative economy rooted in the values and imaginations of the community, the Freedom Quilting Bee became the largest community-owned enterprise in Alberta and the surrounding area. During the bread-and-butter years, supported by the coop’s decade-long contract with Sears to make corduroy pillow shams, the Freedom Quilting Bee had over 150 members. According to the documentary, With Fingers of Love Freedom Quilting Bee, the Freedom Quilting Bee had gross sales of $6,000 in 1966; $22,000 in 1968; and projected sales of $100,000 in 1969. With the surplus generated from sales to individuals, department stores, and interior design firms, coop members were able to supplement their tenant farming incomes; purchase washing machines and refrigerators for their homes; and care for their families.
Nettie Young, a founding member of the Freedom Quilting Bee, shared this sage wisdom, “It wasn’t sweet all the time. Just a strong feeling that you could do. You could make a difference. You could make things work. If you got that kind of mind, you will make things work.”
Source: With Fingers of Love Freedom Quilting Bee, Short Documentary Film
📸 Patricia Goudvis
#StudytheBee #AcresofAncestry #BlackAgrarianFund #FreedomQuiltingBee #BlackWomenLeadership #MatriarchalGovernance #BlackHistory #CooperativeEconomics #BuildOurOwnEconomy #SolidarityEconomy #CareforEachOther #Alberta #TextileArts #HeritageQuiltmaking #MaterialCulture #EcoculturalTraditions #BlackFarmers