Yesterday: Civil Rights in the South

February, 2011

Yesterday: Civil Rights in the South

Yvonne Wells
Yesterday: Civil Rights in the South

Dated 1989
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Robert and Helen Cargo Collection of African-American Quilts, 2000.004.0142

This example of artist Yvonne Well's unique story-telling quilts documents dramatic events of the Civil Rights battle of the 1960s. Yesterday: Civil Rights in the South features activist Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at a podium in the center of the quilt.

Around King, Wells portrays harsh imagery, including the violent confrontation between police and activists on the road to Selma, Alabama, the lynching of an African American figure and the bombing of an Alabama church that killed three young girls. Additional images include a black figure seated in the back of a bus, a Confederate flag flying over a domed government building and water fountains labeled "colored" or "white."

Wells uses simplified figures and abstract shapes in the uncomfortable images she creates to remind us of this dark period of American history.