Harvest from the Old schoolhouse garden

Green onions and broccoli are harvested from the Old Schoolhouse garden. Kids get an education on organic farming, food sustainability, composting and environmental stewardship from Raphael Al Kemi, master gardener, who laid out and framed the beginning garden beds to teach students. The seeds were initially planted by members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority as shown in the video below.

Learning using William Blake’s “The Tyger” – Part 1

A little video I made… Blake posed the question as to how the Mighty One could make both the powerful, fearful tiger and the yielding, innocent lamb. Part 1 of this session focused on reading the text followed by some comprehension questions. It is interesting that Blake taught his wife Catherine to read, and she helped color some of his illustrations.

By William Blake 1757–1827 William Blake

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!
When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Quilts of the Underground Railroad

Several quilters gave an informal but excellent presentation of the use of quilts in the Underground Railroad. Below is the outline of the lesson. The theory of such quilt use is not surprising. There had to be various clandestine or secret signalling systems to guide or warn escapees from slavery. Quilts would be one logical item.

Quilts And Signals Of The Underground Railroad- 2


Definition of Quilt: A warm covering made of two layers of cloth filled with material with loft, stitched together with lines or patterns. Came into use as coverings to ward of the cold, but later became popular for the many designs used

Quilting in Africa

•      Quilts were weaved instead of stitched, Early African Civilizations used looms. Work was done by men. Loud color were used so that they  could be seen from a distance and enemies could be spotted

•      Patterns used could symbolize status, birth, marriages, and geographic locations. Patterns were woven to ward off evil spirits


Use of Quilts on the Plantation

•      Many slaves quilted blankets from old flour & feed sacks, worn clothes, rescued curtains, and old coats

•      Slaves quilted blankets for coverlets for their Masters

•      Slaves often hung out their master quilts in order that they may air out


What was the Underground Railroad?

The Underground Railroad was a secret series of escape routes for slaves trying to gain their freedom. Slaves traveled by foot, wagons, boats, and trains. They usually traveled at night and hid by day in safe houses known as stations. The main destination was the north or Canada.

 How were quilts used on the Underground Railroad?

•      Some writers have theorized quilts were used to signal runaways, and had embedded messages of moral or spiritual content for slave and runaway

•      Many quilts had stitches that were used as maps-for the road heading North or the Plantation.

•      A quilt might be used to signal danger or the presence of a safe house or “station” was near

•      They included the manner of how to act and what to wear on the escape route North, Quilts also included well wishes, and a way to ward off evil spirits for their journey North

Some common Quilt Patterns?

•      Bear Claw- It means follow the path of the bear it would lead to water

•      Monkey Wrench – Gather tools for the journey

•      The Wagon Wheel- Pack ALL the necessary supplies, as if you were packing a wagon

•      Cross Roads – Cleveland was the Cross Roads into Ohio and there were 5 different freedom trails from here

•      Log Cabin – Draw a symbol in the dirt for the Conductor to see, or look for a safe house with the same pattern

•      Shoo Fly – a free black that could help slaves escape to freedom

•      Bow Tie – Dress up, wear new clothes, so they you could pass for free blacks living in the North

•      Flying Geese – Flying Geese fly North in the Spring time, so slaves should go North

•      Drunkard’s Path -Slaves should walk in a zig zag path in order to confuse whoever was tracking them

•      Star – Follow the North Star