NETTIE YOUNG, 92, the last surviving original member of the Gee's Bend quilting bee, speaks about how the CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT was wrapped in the fabric of these quilts. THE FREEDOM QUILTING BEE was born in 1966, during the last years of the movement. "Y'all don't know where I came from, and I want people to know where I came from," she said. "I enjoyed it - I really did. I thank GOD from what I've come through. If y'all don't know what BLESSED is, this is BLESSED."
Estelle Witherspoon and Mama Willie Abrams - The Freedom Quilting Bee is a quilting cooperative established in 1966 by a group of African American women in the community of Rehoboth, 46 miles from Selma, in Wilcox County. The groups arose during the civil rights movement and is heralded for having spawned a renaissance of the popularity of quilting in American interior décor in the 1960s.
Through those generations, the women of Gee's Bend have taught their daughters to quilt. However, isolated culturally and geographically from other communities, they developed distinctive and sophisticated techniques with little outside influence. Their quilting style is based on traditional American and African quilts, but with a geometric simplicity likened to modern art. To piece together their quilts, the women salvaged any material they could find — from feed sacks to old work clothes.