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Black History Month - a Time to Reflect and Reimagine

From Africa to Atlanta by Way of Arkansas, 72x72 inch African memory quilt by O.V. Brantley 2000.

When you are as old and black as I am, everyday is black history month.😂 I try to live each day with that in mind by taking a moment to be deeply grateful for the arc of my life (mostly good) and to continue to imagine (dream) what I may think is impossible.

Dream Like Crazy, 44x51 inch crazy quilt by O.V. Brantley, 2012.

Born in 1954 the same year the Untied States Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education making segreated schools unlawful, I still did not go to an integrated school until I was in the seventh grade. I lived in “colored town” in Crossett, Arkansas, drank “colored water”, ate at “colored restaurants” and sat in the balcony of the movie theater. I had a wonderful, supportive family, lots of friends and neighbors, and a library card. I spent most of my time at the First Baptist Church and the Crossett Library. I am grateful for the imperfect life I had growing up in a small town of 6000 people.

Colored Girl Dreams, 80x80 inch traditional quilt by O.V. Brantley, 2011.

However, I have never been one to accept boundaries. So I dreamed and imagined. My very first airplane flight was to Norway where I spent a summer as an exchange student in Ulefoss, Norway. I lived with a white family, and I was the only black person in the entire town. I graduated valedictorian of my integrated high school class in spite of starting with a segregated education. I attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and Vanderbilt University Law School in spite of guidance counselors who advised otherwise. I dreamed and imagined.

So now with the passage of time, Black History Month is now my history. I use the month as a time for deep reflection and gratitude for how my life turned out. I use the month to marvel at how much about black people accomplishing things I had no idea about. It makes me proud.

But throughout the month, I dream. How can we be more perfect? How can we love more? How can we learn more? Now that I have had 68 years to reflect and reimagine, I believe that the way to change the world is to make one new friend at a time. I honestly believe that anyone who knows me will love me (and my quilts). So every day I try to be a friend and make a friend. I am grateful you are my friend.🥰

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