Online Video, Panel Discussion     

Stitching History: The Afro-American Heritage Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt

This moderated panel discussion looks at the significance of a quilt made for the Bicentennial in 1976 by 15 African American women from Portland on view in the Oregon Historical Society pavilion from October 1 to November 2, 2020. Though a number of quilts were created in Oregon for a similar purpose, this quilt —now preserved in the Oregon Historical Society Museum collection —was unique then for its celebration of Black history in America in its design, as well as for the civic contributions of its quilters in an era of racial strife.

Afro-American Heritage Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt. Image courtesy Portland Textile Month.

Carmen P. Thompson is an independent scholar and historian of race and the Black experience. Dr. Thompson earned her PhD in U.S. history from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and her master’s degree in African American studies from Columbia University in New York, where she was the recipient of the Zora Neale Hurston Award for Excellence in Writing by the Institute for Research in African American Studies for her master’s thesis. Dr. Thompson is a member of the editorial board of the Oregon Historical Society’s peer-reviewed journal, the Oregon Historical Quarterly, where she co-edited and authored articles in the journal’s regionally acclaimed special issue on White supremacy in Oregon. Dr. Thompson’s research interests include the history of slavery and the slave trade in the New World and pre-colonial West Africa, early African American history, race and ethnicity in early America, and the Great Migration. Currently, Dr. Thompson is writing a ground-breaking book on the history of White Supremacy in America, entitled, The Making of American Whiteness, which examines the origins of Whiteness in America.

Carmen Thompson

Mary Bywater Cross is a quilt historian who works within the quilt world to take the awareness of quilts as visual records of human experience beyond the confines of the traditional quilting world to the broader expanse of public audiences. Since 1981, she studied and traveled extensively to major national museums and historical areas, published books and articles on various aspects of quilt history, and lectured nationally at locations spanning from the Smithsonian to church basements of rural Oregon. Her research work on quilts of migration has won national recognition including an Award of Merit from the American Association of State and Local History and the Benjamin Franklin Award from the Publishers' Marketing Association. Mary has served on the Oregon Quilt Documentation Project committee as an advisor and grant writer since 2010.

Mary Bywater Cross

Sylvia Gates Carlisle, MD, MBA, FACP is Director of Practice Management Curriculum at University of California at Riverside School of Medicine Family Medicine Residency Program and is Medical Director for Utilization Management Operations at Beaver Medical Group. She is the proud descendant of activists on both sides of her family. Her clinical career was devoted to underserved communities in South Central Los Angeles. Dr. Carlisle served in the National Health Service Corps with the Watts Health Foundation, and was a recipient of the Regional Administrator's Award. She came to the Inland Empire, bringing experience managing complex patients and implementing innovative programs to health workforce shortage areas. She is the only surviving member of the original group of quilters who made the Afro-American Heritage Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt.

Sylvia Gates Carlisle

Sheridan Collins is on the advisory committee for Portland Textile Month. As a consultant, she has lectured frequently about antique carpets and textiles. She was a long-time docent at George Washington University Museum/The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., before moving to Portland one year ago. She was formerly a radio and TV news reporter.

Sheridan Collins

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