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January/February 2013


I know the newsletter is a bit on the tardy side and I apologize. So many things are happening at once as LQP begins to recharge and go to a new level. Not only have I been grant writing galore (4 in the past month alone), but new opportunities concerning the project present themselves almost daily. And for this I am thankful as new supporters come on board and long standing advocates continue to be the backbone on which The Lynch Quilts Project can reach new heights. This past month a new group of quilters came on board to assist.
I expect 2013 to be full of new and unexpected opportunities. To begin this year, Her Name was Laura Nelson is on exhibition at the Indianapolis Central Library. The day after the quilt went up on Monday, January 27, 2013, the local newspaper, the Indianapolis Star, ran an article about The Lynch Quilts Project on the front page.
Although we had been working on this article off and on since September 2011, I was shocked and stunned to say the least. Front page, really? Shocker! Today this article was followed-up by an interview on the local television station WTHR-TV. In addition, the Star article was picked-up by USA Today on-line and WTHR story moved to As of yesterday someone has viewed this project in all but 16 states in the Union.
Below please find links to information about The Project. And thank you all for your continued support.

What has made all of this possible is the continued support and assistance of so many of you over the years and I have tried to emphasize this over and over again in each interview. I hope that comes out and I want you to know that I appreciate all the support. This could not be done without you.
I also want to thank Vic Ryckaert and Danese Kenon of the Indianapolis Star for their sensitivity in working on producing news about the project. And Steven Jefferson at WTHR for the fearlessness of showing images of lynching on the 6 o'clock news. I want to thank the Indianapolis Public Library's African American History Committee and the entire library staff for accepting the burden of this history and choosing to move forward anyway.

However, I especially want to thank the entire third floor Information Desk staff who sit in the wake of the quilt and will do so each day for the next 8 weeks. They've been thrust into the spotlight and the role of unwitting activist. Day in day out they field questions, providing information to the public when I cannot be there, which is most of the time. They've done a marvelous job in these first few days and a few have taken it upon themselves to begin keeping a log of community responses and comments. For all of this I am grateful!

And most importantly, I want to thank Laura Nelson and her son LD/Lawrence, wherever their spirits may rest, for the 
privilege and honor of telling their story.
With the utmost gratitude . . .
P.S. Due to the travel and exhibition schedule for February, the next newsletter will arrive around March 15, 2011. So if you are in the Chicago, IL or Indianapolis, IN area, checkout a few of these exhibitions of the work.

Me with Laura Nelson at the Madame Walker Theatre Center in Indianapolis, IN.


Understanding the Back Story
Over and over again, I am confronted with questions concerning the validity and necessity of The Lynch Quilts Project. Why now? Why not let it go? What's the purpose of retelling this story? And on . . . and on . . . and on.
Simply put, because it must be done. If not now, then when? But also at the core of this is an exploration of why it is important to understand the entire story of a person, a place . . . a nation even. The more information we examine, the more stories that become apart of the dialogue, the more sides to the story we get, the more we understand. From this process emerges a clearer picture of the person, the place, the nation.  And as we gain greater understanding, we gain more compassion and more insight on how to move forward.
So, let me spin a tale for you in regards to how this simple concept relates not only to the everyday, but as we view history.
I work at a community center and manage the garden.  Being that this is a public space in a highly urbanized area of the city, we get all sorts of people stopping in. Some are funny, some are chatty, some just want to lounge around in a cool space, and some may even be on the (dare I say it) . . . creepy side. Or, at the very least they can make you feel a little bit uncomfortable.
Over the past few weeks, we've had an individual spend hours at a time in the space using the computers. Hours upon hours, so much so that at times it has hampered our ability to actually run the community center as he needs constant assistance or attention some days. There is an element of rudeness to this individual.  And his recent activity on the computer even gave us pause when we realized he was downloading information on how to get in the "modeling" business, which given some of the sites looked more like the escort business.
From observation, I would surmise this individual has some slight emotional and/or mental imbalance.And no this is not a manifesto about the mentally ill I have both friends and family that suffer from these afflictions and do not take it likely.
But, given recent discussions surrounding the Sandy Hook shootings and the fact our garden sits in the shadows of a gun dealer. One that has been robbed twice in the past 7 months, resulting in fire fights that ended in death, you could see why our staff had concerns. So combining the imagery and the behavior, he made me feel a tad bit uncomfortable at times.
A few days ago, I was at the front desk when he asked to use my cell phone.  I was irritated and terse with him more than usual (shame on me). I was hesitant and a little abrupt when I asked him the phone number he wanted to call. (Back story: I don't usually allow strangers to use my phone unless I dial the number for them. Once in the midst of good Samaritan duties, I lent my phone and the person called overseas. Needless to say, the phone company was not so empathetic to my plight.)  Anyhoo, my co-worker instead offered him the work phone.
His first call stopped me dead in my cleaning tracks.
It went something like this, "Hi I was wondering if you still have any food left. I haven't eaten in two days." I was floored. Then I was guilty. Then my mind began to link together things in new and interesting patterns that lead to a sad story, requiring my empathy instead harshness.
Then after about 2 minutes and 3 phone calls later hearing this again and again, "I haven't eaten in 2 days," my mind reorganized. I tried finding some food on-site which resulted in a can of pop, an orange and a bag of popcorn. He never asked and I never tried to humiliate him by offering, but instead just sat it on his paper in front of him. He devoured the popcorn with kernels spilling all over the floor. In essence, he ravenously inhaled that meager dinner. Just as he finished off the popcorn, he located an organization that could provide food that day, and was rushing to get home as quickly as possible. Before he left, I helped him go through the remaining list of numbers and offered new resources he hadn't known about for both food and a potential job.
So, why does understanding the back story of this gentleman recast him in a new light and how does this relate to history and The Lynch Quilts Project
Perhaps, this gentleman wasn't as creepy as I had originally thought. But maybe the websites were a desperate attempt to feed himself. Maybe his behavior is a result of malnutrition coupled with desperation and stress that further amplified any underlying condition he already has. Perhaps his circumstances were so dire that he was willing to sell his body for a scrap of bread. A little bit of insight and perspective does wonders in terms of changing one's mindset, understanding and ultimately opens the doors towards compassion.
So, as we explore more and more this process of lynching. What it reveals about our history of intolerance and oppression as Americans is less important as what it will reveal about who we can be. What it reveals about who we will be once we have the courage to take the journey towards truth, reconciliation and ultimately healing of this history. For as my mentor used to say, you are several people in one: 
  • The one you think you are
  • The one you show the world
  • The one hidden in you that you may not even know
  • The one based on how other people view you
Often, the truth is much more complicated and somewhere in the middle.

So America, I ask you . . .who will we be as a nation once we combine  these multiple national identities into one?

P.S. For more in-depth exploration on why history matters, checkout these articles:


New year and we are roaring into action quickly. I received the remaining "H" blocks for Quilt IV from Betty Philips yesterday and they were quite beautiful. Quilt II will be heading off to get quilted in the next couple of weeks as soon as the Black History Month Fevor dies down a bit. So now, attention has turned towards piecing the top for Quilt IV together. 
In regards to Quilt IV a few people have signed up to help knock off these final blocks, so we are heading in the right direction to completion. We've recruited a few extra people to work on the quilt starting in the next couple of weeks. Some are novice others bring embroidery and other needle arts skills to the project. 

Quilt IV is a 6.5 inch 9-patch block. To complete Quilt IV we will need the following blocks over the next month or so.:
  • A - 12
  • C - 3
  • D - 6
  • M - 4
  • R - 9
  • S - 12
  • T - 4
  • W - 5
  • Period - 4
  • Quote - 6
  • Comma - 4
Quilt III and Quilt V are still on hiatus until the tops for Quilt II and Quilt IV are completed. 
Quilt VI is on display at the Harrison Gallery in Indianapolis February 1-28, while Quilt I will be on display in Indianapolis, IN Central Library from now until March 23, 2013.
So, far this year all in all things are moving along at a nice pace.
Again, thanks for all your continued dedication and hard work. The Lynch Quilts Project could not happen without you.
Until next month . . . keep quilting!
With the Utmost Thanks,


Sewing Sessions in Indianapolis, IN
Weekly Sessions
Join us for weekly sewing sessions as we complete Quilt IV of The Lynch Quilts Project. If you are interested in participating, please contact me at for additional information, times and locations.

Black Light
February 1-28, 2013
Harrison Gallery at Harrison Center for the Arts
1505 N Delaware St  
Indianapolis, IN
Opening Reception 
Friday, February 1, 2013
6-10 PM
The Lynch Quilts Project @
Meet the Artist 25th Annual Celebration
January 27- March 23, 2013
Central Library
40 E. St. Clair St.
Indianapolis, IN
Opening Reception 
Saturday, February 9, 2013
6-10 PM
Collaborative Vision:
The Poetic Dialogue Project
February 5 - March 13, 2013
Christopher Art Gallery
Prairie State College
202 S. Halsted
Chicago Heights, IL

Creative Renewal Retrospection
April 12 – June 2, 2013
Indianapolis Art Center
820 East 67th Street  
Indianapolis, IN 



Lots has happened since the last newsletter: The release of the film Django Unchained which I will watch (I promise) . . .  eventually; the ignauration of President Obama's second term, the continual fallout of Sandy Hook and so much more. These article are just a few of those I've run across this month that I thought furthered some of this discussion or offered new twists and turns.

The Emancipation Proclamation’s 150th anniversary in context

 ‘Django’: Stream of Consciousness Review

  When Family Trees Are Gnarled by Race

 Postal Service Issues Emancipation Proclamation Stamp

Georgia Sheriff’s Office Investigates Fliers Inviting Residents to Join KKK

What Hollywood Doesn't Tell Us about Slavery

Trayvon Martin: The Latest, Week 44

Time to profile white men?

Race, Class, Violence and Denial: Mass Murder and the Pathologies of Privilege



An ode to my garden during these winter months.


I would definitely like to hear from others out there. So, please contribute your thoughts, photos and art. You can respond to this newsletter or email directly at 


Continue to be the light LQP people!

Mailing Address:
The Lynch Quilts Project
P.O. Box 90348
Indianapolis, IN 46290