Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Among a Million Readers

I joined over a million readers on Sunday February 3, at the Sherwood Regional Library in Alexandria, Virginia as part of the Nineteenth National African American Read-In sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and by NCTE. I read from two picture books that I illustrated—Grandma’s Purple Flowers and Destiny’s Gift, and shared some of my original illustrations to a mixed audience of parents and inquisitive school-age children. The Read-In was designed to inject literacy into the celebration of Black History Month. That day across the nation, Read Ins were hosted by churches, schools, libraries and various community groups.

A Quilt and a Quest

Kyra E. Hicks, a quilt historian and author of Martha Ann’s Quilt for Queen Victoria also read that day at Sherwood library. Hicks first children’s book is the true story of Martha Ann Ricks, an ex-slave who had a dream to travel to England to deliver a gift to the Queen of England, in appreciation of the British Navy’s role in protecting the shores of Liberia from slave catchers. Despite skepticism from family and friends, Martha Ann was determined to meet her goal. After 50 years of collecting spare coins for her 3,500 mile voyage, and drawing upon what she learned about quilting from her mother, she finally was able to deliver the “Coffee Tree” quilt and meet the Queen of England. A year later the quilt was exhibited in the Liberian exhibit area at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.

Kyra Hicks taught herself to quilt after a visit to a museum in 1991 exhibiting African American story quilts. Since then Hicks has exhibited her quilts throughout the U.S. and abroad. A historical researcher, Hicks is the author of Black Threads: An African American Quilting Sourcebook.

Adjoa Burrowes

Posted in February, 2008