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Monday, October 20, 2008

Quilts As Messengers of Freedom

My mother is a teacher and I love going to work with her when I’m off from school. She works with first graders and they are always so adorable. I have encouraged my mom to share with her students information about Gee’s Bend; The Architecture of the Quilt. This exhibition of the most incredibly beautiful and intricate quilts is currently on display at The Philadelphia Museum of Art until December 2008.

My mom’s students are amazing. They know where Gee’s Bend is on a map. They know why women quilted and what materials were used to make quilts. And they can name different quilt patterns-Log Cabin, Crown of Thorns, Flying Geese, Bear Paw, Lone Star, Nine Patch…. These first graders, during a lesson on patterns and shapes, created their own quilt designs and displayed them in the hallway of their school. Not only are other students able to see the first graders’ quilt projects, but there is information displayed on the wall about the Gee’s Bend Exhibition as well.

But, what most inspired me that day was the book my mom read to her class. Each week she reads a book with quilts as its theme. The day I was there, she read Under the Quilt of Night by Deborah Hopkinson. From this book, I , a seventh grader, and the first grade students learned how quilts were used as signals to run-away slaves to convey to them which houses were safe for them to enter and seek refuge on their journey North, to freedom. Some white abolitionists would hang a quilt, over a fence, in front of their house. Run-away slaves had been instructed to look for a certain pattern in the center of a quilt. This particular pattern would indicate to the run-way slaves that this was a house full of kind people, who would give them food and shelter until they moved on to their next destination on the Underground Railroad. How amazing!!!

Again, I urge you to go and visit Gee’s Bend; The Architecture of the Quilt at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

For more information contact the museum at 215-763-8100 or

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Girls Going Places; An Entrepreneurship Award Program for Females

I was the typical kid always begging my mother for money to buy this gadget or those pair of jeans or the best Ugg boots this side of Australia. My mom always gave the same response, “These aren’t priorities for me. My budget can only accommodate priorities.” One day, after one of my long, desperate begging sessions for money to go to the movies, my mom said you’re an African, where is your entrepreneurial spirit? What? Long story short, at age 11, I started my own greeting cards company. I mainly sell my cards at fairs and home shows and I have regular customers who call on me to make cards for them for all occasions. I even have a few cards in local, independent bookstores.

With help from my mom and aunt, I developed a business plan. I opened a bank account. I’m learning to appreciate the importance of saving money. I’m learning about interest. I'm ready to take on the world. My card business is not a Fortune 500 company yet, but I’m working on it.

This is why I am excited about Girls Going Places, the 9th Annual Entrepreneurship Award Program celebrating the spirit of the young, female entrepreneurs. Sponsored by the Guardian Life Insurance Company, this program rewards enterprising girls between the ages of 12-18.

Here’s more information from Guardian:
Guardian grants cash prizes to girls who demonstrate budding entrepreneurship; are taking the first steps toward financial independence; and making a difference in their schools and communities. Prizes are granted as follows: $10,000, first place; $5,000, second place; $3,000 third place; and twelve $1,000 finalist prizes รณ for a total of $30,000. Prizes are granted to help winners and finalists save for college and
continue their entrepreneurial pursuits. Teachers, parents, and community members are encouraged to nominate accomplished young female entrepreneurs between the ages of 12 and 18.
Adults can nominate girls — daughters, nieces, neighbors or students — by submitting a 750-word essay endorsing accomplished young female entrepreneurs. Nominees must also write a 250-word personal statement on entrepreneurship, leadership, financial independence, or giving back to the community.

Additional information about the program and nomination forms for the competition can be found at .