Ormond Beach Historical Society wins Underground Railroad quilt, donates it forward to local historic African American church
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Ormond Beach Historical Society planned a special raffle of an Underground Railroad-themed quilt to benefit the local Historic New Bethel AME church on Monday, Jan. 15.
Rev. Phyllis Rose Brown and the quilters, Ruth Mielke, Nora Sgro and Joan Radula, were hoping the church would benefit from the raffle in more than just the $1,340 donation from the historical society's raffle ticket sales. They hoped the quilt would somehow make its way to what they felt should be its rightful home.
And that person did.
The winner of the raffle was the historical society's own special events committee chairperson, Diana Simmons. It only took her five minutes after she won to announce she would be donating the quilt to the Historic New Bethel AME church.
“The love and time and effort that went into this quilt is shown in the details, and just as we are all on a journey with the historical society or with the church, this was a journey," Simmons said. "This was a quilt that helped people in their own journey.”
Each of the 14 squares on the quilt shows the symbols guiding Harriet Tubman and the slaves she led in direction of the north, where they would be free. Since many of the slaves did not read, the symbols were a way to universally communicate the directions they needed to take.
It took Mielke, Sgro and Radula two months of steady quilting to finish their project. Now, they feel like the quilt has travelled its way home.
"It's going where it belongs," Radula said.