African American Quilt Guild of Oakland

African American Quilting

The African American Quilt Guild of Oakland’s mission is to preserve and continue the tradition of quilting, to promote fellowship among interested persons in all aspects of quilting, to contribute to the knowledge and appreciation of fine quilting and quilts, and to sponsor and support quilting activities through regular meetings and special events with the community.  Founded in 2000, the Guild grew out of classes taught by master quilter Esther Pancho at the Grand Avenue Downtown Senior Center in Oakland.  The Guild holds an annual Black History Month workshop; makes presentations and offers demonstrations to Bay Area libraries, schools, and civic organizations; and collaborates with national musuems and organizations to exhibit the work of Guild members and other African American quilters.

In 2015, a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program will support Bringing Neighborhoods Together: Quilts Around Oakland, a citywide quilt exhibition and community quilt initiative.  Through a series of workshops held in multiple communities throughout the city of Oakland, community members will help design and stitch quilts that will be exhibited along with quilts designed and stitched by Guild members.  Each workshop will be focused on a particular aspect of life in Oakland, and the project aims to enhance a sense of community pride and ownership, as well as increase interest in quilting and enhance the skills of both beginning and advanced quilters.

In 2011, the Guild received a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program to support an exhibition of quilt works by members of the guild intended to introduce and promote the tradition of quilting to the local African American community.  On display were heritage quilts belonging to the guild members. “These pieces of our past act as points of comfort for our collective memory,” writes Marilyn Handis, the project director.  The exhibition, entitled Sankofa: Preserving Our Past-Designing Our Future, took place on April 9, 2011.


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