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The Women of Gee's Bend

A quilt by Lucy Marie Mingo.
Debbie Elliott, NPR
A quilt by Lucy Marie Mingo.

The tiny enclave of Gee’s Bend, Ala., has been in the spotlight over the past few years because of a touring exhibit of quilts. The artisans behind the quilts -- women from Gee's Bend -- have won critical acclaim from New York to Houston, and they still gather each weekday morning to stitch the abstract patterns that first caught the eye of the art world.

Eighty-one-year-old Arlonzia Pettway remains stunned at the attention. "We never thought that our quilts was artwork; we never heard about a quilt hanging on a wall in a museum," she says. "Everybody went to talking about our quilts and everybody wanted to meet us and see us and that’s what happened."

But as NPR's Debbie Elliott reports, their newfound fame hasn’t changed life much in the rural community of slave descendants and one-time sharecroppers.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott can be heard telling stories from her native South. She covers the latest news and politics, and is attuned to the region's rich culture and history.