Celebrating civil rights one stitch at a time “The March Quilts” project

Birmingham Alabama
Birmingham Alabama
The March Quilts – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

Last week, Bham Now talked to Bib & Tucker Sew-Op co-founder Lillis Taylor about the organization’s “The March Quilts” project which celebrates and memorializes civil rights and human rights movement anniversaries through “needles and thread, one stitch at a time.

Birmingham Alabama
The March Quilts – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

An extraordinary project, The March Quilts project fits nicely with the Crestwood neighborhood-based “sew-op’s” mission to cultivate skills for those who sew or want to sew. The group’s aim is to be the hub for sewing activities that promote empowerment, education and economic opportunity.

Following are question and answers with Bib & Tucker’s Lillis Taylor about The March Quilts and the future of the project:

Bham Now: How did your group come up with the idea of the The March Quilts?

Lillis Taylor: In the midst of several Civil Rights Movement anniversaries, I was sitting with my co-founder, “Miss” Annie Bryant, and we were talking about how 50 years ago, we wouldn’t have been allowed to start a sewing group together, let alone work side by side week in and week out. We decided to celebrate using our needles and thread and thus was born, “The March Quilts” project.

Bham Now: Tell us about the first three years of the project?

Lillis Taylor: In its first year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Marches (the project gets its name from the fact that all three marches occurred during the month of March in 1965).

In 2016, we shed light on the gender wage gap with a quilt made using the Suffragette colors: purple, yellow and green.

Birmingham Alabama
Gender wage equity quilt – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

This year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of LOVING DAY – June 12th – which is the day that the Supreme Court voted in favor of Richard and Mildred Loving in their case, Loving Vs. Virginia. The ruling knocked down anti-miscegenation laws in the state of Virginia and led the way for the rest of the country to follow suit.

Birmingham Alabama
The Loving Quilt – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

Bham Now: What’s in store for year 4?

Lillis Taylor: Year 4 will begin later this fall and we will reveal its theme soon. Each year, we choose a different theme of civil or human rights and then shed light on that theme by facilitating open sewing sessions in the community.

Over the past three years, we have facilitated the creation of over 650 quilt blocks, which we’ve then made into five quilts.

Bham Now: How can people get involved?

Lillis Taylor: We aim to host between 10 and 15 sewing sessions between November and March. We encourage those interested in participating to:

1. Like The March Quilts on Facebook;
2. Learn more about the project from our website, where you can also
3. Sign up for our email newsletter. Anyone can participate and anyone can join or host a sewing session. For more information, please email bibandtuckersewop@gmail.com .

Birmingham Alabama
The March Quilt – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

Building community one stitch at a time, Bib & Tucker is enriching people’s lives everyday with grace and beauty.

Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama’s Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama’s cancer risk and mercury standards.