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The African American Collection

Voices of Freedom
Deonna Todd Green
Remus, Mecosta County, Michigan
Cotton with polyester filling
48” x 48”
MSUM 2000:67.2
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong, all rights reserved Michigan State University Museum

Each of the 49 blocks in this quilt is devoted to a different figure important in African-American history and includes an embroidered portrait, the person's name, their birth/death date, and a note about their accomplishment. The embroidery is in green, red, and black embroidery floss—the colors of the Pan African Flag. This flag originally created as the official banner of the African Race by the members of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and African Communities League. It was formally adopted by UNIA in article 39 of the Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World on August 13, 1920 during their convention held in New York City. The flag and the colors became an African nationalist symbol for the liberation of African people everywhere.

The blocks are as follows, reading left to right: Row 1: 1. in green thread, "Benjamin Banneker 1731 1806 Astrologer Designer-Washington D.C." 2. in black thread, "Prince Hall 1735 1807 First African Masonic Lodge-Number 459" 3. in red thread, "Phillis Weatherly 1753 1784 Poet" 4. in green thread, "Paul Cuffe 1759-1817 Massachusetts Merchant Provided Funds to Educate Black Children" 5. in black thread, "Richard Allen 1760 1831 Founder of the Free African Society" 6. in red thread, "Crispus Attucks ? 1770 Martyr of the American Revolution" 7. in green thread, "Sojourner Truth 1797 1883 Abolitionist 'The Black Joan of Ark' " Row 2: 8. in black thread "James Beckworth 1788 1897 Chief of the Crow Tribe" 9. in red thread, the name is in block letters, there is no portrait "Nat Turner 1800 1831 Abolitionist" 10. in green thread, "Norbert Rillieux 1806 1894 Inventor Sugar Industry" 11. in black thread, "Frederick Douglass 1817 1895 Abolitionist-Editor-Author-Politician" 12. in red thread, "Harriet Tubman 1826 1913 'Moses' to Her People" 13. in green thread, "William Lamber Detroit Merchant Helped Slaves Cross Into Canada" 14. in black thread, "Robert Smalls 1834 1915 Civil Rights Pioneer" Row 3: 15. in red thread, "Lewis Latimer 1848 1928 Inventor of the Incandescent Light" 16. in green thread, "Jan Matzeliger 1852 1889 Inventor Shoe Manufacturing Industry" 17. in black thread, "Booker T. Washington 1856 1915 Educator" 18. in red thread, "Granville T. Woods 1856 1910 Inventor of the Automatic Air Brake" 19. in green thread, "Dr. Daniel Hale Williams 1858 1931 First Successful Open Heart Surgery" 20. in black thread, "George Washington Carver 1864 1943 Inventor of 300 Uses for the Peanut" 21. in red thread, "Matthew Henson 1867 1955 Explorer" Row 4: 22. in green thread, "W.E.B. DuBois 1868 1963 Founder of the N.A.A.C.P." 23. in black thread, "Paul Laurence Dunbar 1872 1906 Poet" 24. in red thread, "W.C. Handy 1873 1958 'The Father of the Blues' " 25. Embroidered map of Africa in black, gold, red. In thick green letters "Black Pioneers The Voices of Freedom" 26. in black thread, "Mary McLeord Bethune 1875 1955 Teacher" 27. in red thread, "charles H. Huston 1895 Lawyer-Educator First Official Counsel of the N.A.A.C.P." 28. in green thread, "Lanston Hughes 1902 1967 Poet" Row 5: 29. in black thread, "Marion Anderson 1902 Professional Solist" 30. in red thread, "Dr. Charles Drew 1904 1950 Changed Blood Into Plasma" 31. in green thread, "Dr. Ralph Bunche 1904 1971 United Nations Staff" 32. in black thread, "Robert C. Weaver 1907 Member of the Black Cabinet 33. in red thread, "Thurgood Marshall 1908 1993 Supreme Court Justice" 34. in green thread, "Benjamin O'Davis Jr. 1912 Lieutenant General" 35. in black thread, "Rosa Parks 1913 Civil Rights Pioneer Bus Boycott- Dec. 5, 1955" Row 6: 36. in red thread, "John Hope Franklin 1915 Historian" 37. in green thread, "Nelson Mandela 1918 Leader of the African National Congress" 38. in black thread, "Edward William Brooke 1919 Senator" 39. in red thread, "James Baldwin 1924 1987 Novelist 'Go Tell It to the Mountain' " 40. in green thread, "Shirley Chisholm 1925 U.S. Congress" 41. in black thread, "Carl T. Rowan 1925 Journalist Nationali Security Council" 42. in red thread, "Malcolm X 1925 1965 Civil Rights Activist" Row 7: 43. in green thread, "Dick Gregory Poet-Activist" 44. in black thread, "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 1929 1968 'I Have a Dream' " 45. in red thread, "Gen. Colin Powell 1937 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff" 46. in green thread, "Rev. Jesse Jackson 1941 Southern Christian Leadership Conference" 47. in black thread, "Clarence Thomas Supreme Court Justice" 48. in red thread, "Guy Bluford 1942 First Black Man in Space" 49. in green thread, "Dr. Mae Jemison 1956 First Black Woman In Space"

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