Sewing Together History: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2013, the Delaware Historical Society kicked off a year-long project honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his celebrated I Have a Dream speech. The project is to take place in three phases.

The first phase involved the Delaware Historical Society’s education staff and the Center for African American Heritage’s Advisory Committee taking blank quilt squares to different locations around the state. Students and adults who attended these programs listened to Dr. King’s famous speech and then discussed what it meant to both African Americans and the entire nation. They were then asked to design a quilt square that represented what Dr. King and his speech meant to them. We received a total of 205 squares!

Class 1

Class 2

During the second phase, the newly created quilt squares were delivered to the ladies of A Stitch in Time, a Dover quilting guild. These ladies, along with volunteers from other local quilting groups, generously volunteered to assemble these squares into several quilts. I recently attended their summer retreat where the ladies came together for three days of quilting and camaraderie. The second day of this retreat was devoted to working on what we are calling the Dream Quilts.

Buying fabric for the quilts
Buying fabric for the quilts
Design concept for a quilt

The volunteers worked together to create a series of quilts using the squares designed in the programs.  I watched them arrange the squares and cut out the strips of red, green, and black fabric for the borders.  It was wonderful to see the quilts taking shape under their skillful hands, giving Dr. King’s speech a fresh new lease on life.




Sorting and cutting squares
Sorting and cutting squares

As the day was winding down, the ladies had just begun to stitch the quilt pieces together.  They will finish up the project at various sewing bees to be held in September and October.

Cutting borders for the quilts
Cutting borders for a quilt

The third and final phase of the project will be taking place on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2014, when the finished quilts will be unveiled at the Delaware History Museum. The quilts will also travel around the state so that everyone will be able to enjoy them.

In the meantime, continue checking back here for project updates!


Sewn Patches
A quilt beginning to take shape

I have a dream

Click here to see Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech

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