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Strange Fruit: A Century of Lynching

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quilt

Cite this Quilt

Shipp, Apri. Strange Fruit: A Century of Lynching. 2003. From Michigan State University Museum, Michigan Quilt Project. Published in The Quilt Index, https://quiltindex.org/view/?type=fullrec&kid=12-8-5011. Accessed: 06/15/21

QUILT INDEX RECORD

12-8-5011

Object label

Strange Fruit: A Century of Lynching from 1865-1965
April Shipp
Auburn Hills, Michigan
2003
Silk, cotton, denim
Machine embroidery
126” x 120”
Collection of the artist

Essay about this quilt.

“Strange Fruit is named after a song by the late Billie Holiday, and it’s dedicated to Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, an African American Newspaper journalist born in 1862, who fought for an anti-lynching law. The story of my Quilt began with an episode of the Oprah show. Her guest had written a book entitled The Face of Our Past, a book dedicated to African American Women. The book was filled with marvelous photos, but one picture was not so marvelous. It was a post card of a mother and her son who had been lynched side by side from a bridge. Until that moment, it never occurred to me that they lynched women, also. Photos were often taken of people who had been lynched. These pictures were called post cards because that was what they were. I have a son who at the time was only five. I thought, if an angry mob came after my boy what would I do? Who do you turn to for help when the whole town is coming after your child? I began to pray, "Father God, someone needs to do something about this." These people need to be known, if not their stories, at least their names. I believe the spirit of the Lord spoke to me, "Find their names and make a quilt."

“Strange Fruit weighs 12 pounds and its 10' long by 10'6" wide. The fabrics are various shades of black. In making this Quilt, I learned that it didn’t matter who you were. It didn’t matter how old you were. It could happen to anyone, anywhere, and anytime. I did this Quilt in loving memory of my people, people I have never met, people whose names are not only woven into the fabric of this Quilt, but also into the fabric of my heart.”

Who documented this quilt?

Michigan Quilt Project

Where are the records for this quilt housed?

Michigan State University Museum

Michigan Quilt Project Number

08.0001

What is the title of the quilt?

Strange Fruit: A Century of Lynching

What is the subject of the quilt?

Civil rights

When was the form filled out?

2/7/2008

Who made the quilt top?

Shipp, April

Who did the quilting?

Shipp, April

If you are the quilt owner, how did you acquire this quilt?

Made the quilt

WHERE WAS THE QUILT MADE: City:

Auburn Hills

County:

Oakland

State:

Michigan (MI)

Country:

United States

Choose the time frame that best describes when the quilt was made.

2000-2025

When was the quilt finished?

2003

This quilt was made to be used as a

Art or personal expression, Commemorative

How is this quilt used?

Artwork/wall hanging

Choose the gender of the quilt maker(s).

Female

Where does/did the quilt maker live (city)?

Auburn Hills

Where does/did the quilt maker live (county)?

Oakland

Where does/did the quilt maker live (state)?

Michigan (MI)

Where does/did the quilt maker live (country)?

United States

What environment did the quilt maker(s) live in?

Urban

What type of quilted object is this?

Finished quilt

How wide is the quilt?

120"

How long is the quilt?

126"

What is the shape of the quilt edge?

Straight

What is the shape of the corners?

Straight

What color(s) is the quilt?

Black, Gold, Red

What is the best description of the quilt's condition?

Excellent/like new

If the quilt has an inscription, what type(s) of inscriptions are on the quilt?

Multiple Names

Enter the exact inscription here, including dates in the same form in which they appear on the quilt. Do not correct any spellings.

Strange Fruit. A Century of Lynching and Murder 1865-1965 (in red machine embroidery) Dedicated to Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (in gold machine embroidery) 100s of names of victims of lynchings and their states (in gold machine embroidery)

What is the date found on the quilt?

1865-1965

How was the inscription made?

Embroidery

Where is the inscription found on the quilt?

on block

What is the layout (or set) of the quilt?

Block pattern

How many blocks are in the quilt?

170 blocks contain names. 13 blocks for the title and dedication, 2 large blocks for the nooses

What size are the blocks?

6 1/2" x 8" for the names

How are the blocks arranged in the quilt?

Straight

How are the blocks spaced in the quilt?

Side by side

If one shape is used throughout the quilt, what is that shape?

Same block throughout

What types of fiber were used to make the quilt top?

Cotton, Silk

What types of fabric were used to make the quilt top?

Other

Describe any unique fibers used in the quilt top.

Corduroy

What piecing method was used to make the quilt top?

Machine Piecing

What embellishments were used to make the quilt top?

Embroidery

Can you feel or see paper on the quilt that was used as a construction aid?

no

What embellishment materials were used to make the quilt top?

Cotton thread

Enter any unique embellishments.

Metallic thread

What fibers were used to make the quilt back?

Cotton

What fiber type was used to make the quilt binding?

Cotton

What construction technique was used to finish the edge of the quilt?

Straight grain, Front turned to back

What is the width of the binding (front side only)?

half inch - one inch

What is the fiber content of the quilt filling?

Cannot tell

Choose the thickness of the quilt filling that best describes the quilt.

Medium (3/16?)

How are the quilt layers held together?

Machine quilting

Describe the overall quilt design.

In-the-ditch

Describe anything about the physical appearance of the quilt that wasn't already recorded in a previous field.

Strange Fruit is named after a song by the late Billie Holiday, and it’s dedicated to Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, an African American Newspaper journalist born in 1862, who fought for an anti-lynching law. The story of my Quilt began with an episode of the Oprah. Her guest had written a book entitled The Face of Our Past, a book dedicated to African American Women. The book was filled with marvelous photos, but one picture was not so marvelous. It was a post card of a mother and her son who had been lynched side by side from a bridge. Until that moment, it never occurred to me that they lynched women, also. Photos were often taken of people who had been lynched. These pictures were called post cards because that was what they were. I have a son who at the time was only five. I thought, if an angry mob came after my boy what would I do? Who do you turn to for help when the whole town is coming after your child? I began to pray, "Father God, someone needs to do something about this." These people need to be known, if not their stories, at least their names. I believe the spirit of the Lord spoke to me, "Find their names and make a quilt." Strange Fruit weighs 12 pounds and its 10' long by 10'6" wide. The fabrics are various shades of black. In making this Quilt, I learned that it didn’t matter who you were. It didn’t matter how old you were. It could happen to anyone, anywhere, and anytime. I did this Quilt in loving memory of my people, people I have never met, people whose names are not only woven into the fabric of this Quilt, but also into the fabric of my heart. Thank you in advance for reading my Letter. The name of my Quilt is Strange Fruit, it is named after a song by the late Billie Holiday, and it is dedicated to Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, an African American Newspaper jounalist and author born in 1862, who fought so tirelessly for an anti-lynching law. I, myself, am not a singer or reporter, I am a Quilter. The story of my Quilt began with an episode of the Oprah show that I missed. Her guest had written a book entitled The Face of Our Past, a book dedicated to African American Women. I had no real interest in the book, nor had I planned to buy it. A co-worker, would ask me everday if I had seen the book, so to satisfy Chris, I went to the bookstore. The book was filled with marvelous photos, but one picture was not so marvelous. It was a post card of a mother and her son who had been lynched side by side from a bridge over the water. Until that moment, it never occurred to me that they lynched women, also. Since then, I discovered that photos were often taken of people who had been lynched. These pictures were called post cards because that was what they were. Just add a stamp, your ocmments to the back, and put in the U.S. mail. I put the book down and walked to my car. I have a son who at the time was only five. I thought, if an angry mob came after my boy what would I do? Who do you turn to for help when the whole town is coming after your child? For a brief moment in time, I was there with that mother. I heard her cry, "Please, don't take my boy! Please, don't kill my son!" I saw her cry, felt her pain. My heart began to ache. What crime had she committed, loving her son too much? Once in the safety of my car with tears in my eyes, I began to pray, "Father God, someone needs to do something about this." These people need to be known, if not their stories, at least their names. These were poeple, my people! I believe the spirit of the Lord spoke to me, "Find their names and make a quilt," "Father, I can't," was my reply. I began telling GOD all the reason why I could not do the Quilt: It would be too big; I'm not qualified; it would be too hard; and my all-time favorite, Lord, you don't really want to use me, pick someone else. Needless to say, He won, and I began to make the quilt. That was five years ago. Strange fruit weighs 12 pounds, and it is 10' long by 10'6" wide. I used my Husqvarna Designer 1 to embroider the names. The fabrics are various shades of black to symbolize the color of my people. Because I believe that everyone is precious in the eyes of God, I used Sulky Gold no.7007 thread to embroider the names. The textures represent their position in life, i.e. silk, cotton, and denim. In making this Quilt, I learned that it did not matter who you were. Just ask Detective Albert Parker (lynched 1868) or Reverend L.C. Baldwin (murdered 1956). It did not matter how old you were. Just ask Virgil Ware, age 13 (murdered 1963) or the 3 murdered children of Thomas Harris. It could happen to anyone, anywhere, and anytime. I did this Quilt in loving memory of my people, people I have never met, people whose names are not only woven into the fabric of this Quilt, but also into the fabric of my heart. This Quilt is truly a miracle!

What is the source of the quilt's pattern?

Original to maker

List all known exhibits where this quilt has been displayed.

Quilts and Human Rights, Michigan State University Museum, January 15 - August 24, 2008

Who documented this quilt?

Quiltmaker

Ownership of this quilt is:

Private

Quilt owner's name:

April Shipp

Quilt owner's city:

Auburn Hills

Quilt owner's county:

Oakland

Quilt owner's state.

Michigan (MI)

Quilt owner's country:

United States

How did the owner acquire this quilt?

Made by owner

Details

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Access and copyright information:

Restricted

What parts of the quilt making process did the quilt maker do?

Made entire quilt

The quilt was made to be used for:

Artwork/wall hanging

Who photographed this quilt?

Pearl Yee Wong

Who is the copyright holder?

Michigan State University Museum

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