Members of the famed Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective from Gee’s Bend, Alabama, will give a lecture Saturday, March 4, at 7 pm at the Oakland Marriott, accompanied by an exhibition of 30 quilts March 3-25 at the Joyce Gordon Galler in Oakland. The events are organized by the Oakland-based Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center in partnership with Peralta Community College District and Joyce Gordon Gallery. Quilters featured will be Ms. Mary Ann Pettway, Executive Director of the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective, and Ms. China Pettway and Ms. Julia Pettway. In addition to the lecture and exhibition, the Pettways will give in-school presentations at area high schools discussing the history of quilting and the central role culture plays in preserving and protecting democracy. Admission to the lecture, presented as part of the popular Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series, is free with registration [details]. Joyce Gordon Gallery is located at 406 14th Street in downtown Oakland and is open to the public Wednesday through Friday 11 am-6 pm, and Saturday 1-4 pm. An exhibition catalog is available (click here to view). For more information about the Quilters of Gee’s Bend, the lecture, and exhibition, visit www.mlkfreedomcenter.org.
About The Quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama
The quilters of Gee’s Bend, a small town in rural Alabama, are internationally known as culture-bearers of a tradition that dates back to slavery and before. Their quilts—works of supreme and sublime craftsmanship, design, utility, and art—are artifacts that stand witness to generations of challenge and triumph. They tell -- and prompt -- stories of the singular importance of community work in unifying and lifting up. They memorialize beloved community and the beloved, whose clothing is tenderly worked into captivating geometric patterns and artistry passed from Mother to Daughter to Granddaughter and Grandson and beyond. Because of the quilters’ organizing and work, the stories of Black history and the power of collective and intergenerational collaboration have spread far beyond the town limits of Gee’s Bend. The legacy of the quilters of Gee’s Bend has a rightful place at the center of the rich traditions of African American visual art, literature, music, dance, and craft that indelibly define and celebrate American culture.
About the March 4 Lecture
Ms. Mary Ann Pettway Ms. China Pettway and Ms. Julia Pettway will share some of their work and experiences with quilting, storytelling, and song in Black history and culture and the transformative role community work plays in preserving the essential pluralism that fuels American democracy. A selection of quilts will be on view at the lecture. The Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series is co-presented by The Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center, The Peralta Community College District, and Joyce Gordon Gallery.
The Quilters of Gee's Bend Exhibition, Joyce Gordon Gallery, March 3-25, 2023
An exhibition of many-sized quilts by the Gee’s Bend quilters will be on view at the Joyce Gordon Gallery March 3-25, 2023 and available for purchase. The gallery, which is located at 406 14th Street in downtown Oakland, is open to the public Wednesday through Friday 11 am-6 pm and Saturday 1-4 pm. For information bout the quilts' availability, please call Joyce Gordon at 510-465-8928 or Karen Bohlke at 206-755-3677.
About the Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series and the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center
The Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series, co-produced by the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center and Peralta Community College District, promotes an ample exchange of ideas to help inspire and move forward new leadership and servantship.
Broad East Bay audiences of all ages are exposed to some of our nation’s most courageous and exemplary civil and human rights figures, engaging in creative solutions and challenges to some of the most perplexing issues facing our communities today: economic inequity, voter disenfranchisement, systemic racism, violence in schools and neighborhoods, police brutality, and the contradictions and ramifications of extreme poverty.
Lectures are organized by the youth and staff at the Freedom Center, with a focus on promoting ideas and actions rooted in principles of nonviolence, and lessons from some of our nation’s most significant civil rights struggles. Civic engagement at the Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center brings together individuals and organizations of diverse ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds, working side-by-side for a healthy democracy. The Freedom Center brings best practices from the nation’s Civil Rights Movement to the forefront in community education, training, and practice, building strong community partnerships with proven results.