Preserving Black Crafts and Legacies

Chicken Roaster, by John Holland or Hein Schaffner, Piedmont, North Carolina, ca. 1830–1860. Old Salem Purchase Fund. All photographs from Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Return to issue

Preserving Black Crafts and Legacies

by Simiyha Garrison
Southern Cultures, Vol. 28, No. 1: Crafted

“Research has revealed the names of more than 200 African American craftspeople working in stoneware manufacturing in the Edgefield District of South Carolina, a legacy spanning three generations.”

I was raised with a keen awareness of the African American journey from slavery to freedom, inspired by stories from my late great-uncle, Rev. Albert E. Love, who was actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement as a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). I have also been inspired by my great-grandmother, an incredible artist recognized by various educational and civic institutions for her quilt work, which recreated the various maps and codes used on the Underground Railroad. My vocational path has been guided by these familial traditions, motivating me to reimagine the past and present. In particular, I am inspired to record and preserve oral histories, with emphasis on how cultural meaning and memory are reproduced, preserved, and interpreted.