Thursday, July 7, 2011

Oops, We Did It Again!

Hello???? Anyone still out there????

I can just hear everyone saying "Where have you been? You haven't posted anything in almost three months!!!!!"

Just as Dr. Gaither was getting into the idea of posting and I had started up weekly postings, we dropped the ball and stopped. With this posting I offer a mea culpa and a few exciting explanations.

The title of this post not only refers to one of our unintentional multi-month hiatus' from posting but also to the fact that for the third time in three years, another My American Series quilt has been completed. Yes, that's right, completed. The National Black Theatre Festival quilt was finally finished last week after months of promises from Dr. Gaither that it would be completed by the end of the month. "It will be finished by the end of February....March...April...May... It has to be finished by the middle of June." And when was it finished? The first weekend in July!

For those of you who are loyal readers of this blog (thank you!), you know that I somewhat serve as Dr. Gaither's personal assistant. I take care of correspondence, posting on this website, monitoring her calendar, helping her with appearances and workshops, and many other duties. One of those duties includes keeping her on task and on schedule which is not an easy feat. Keeping her on task for this latest quilt has been quite the ordeal as she loves to work under the pressure of a deadline and there wasn't one for several months. With every My American Series quilt, there has always been a pressing time factor which has lead to round the clock quilting sessions as well as several public appearances by the quilt as it makes the rounds with community quilting sessions. This quilt was not like that. Begun more than a year ago, this quilt was way ahead of schedule, not needing to be in Winston-Salem, NC until late July/early August.  Because of this, Dr. Gaither seemingly had plenty of time to complete the quilt, despite my insistence that it had to be finished absolutely no later than Memorial Day in order to give the theatre festival representatives time to create the posters, cards, and other items that will be on offer with this quilt.. Plus I need time to be able to create a diagram to allow people to find themselves and their organizations on the quilt. It was finally completed last week because she received the date the quilt was going to travel to Winston-Salem, putting her in a time crunch-induced panic (finally).

The National Black Theatre Festival quilt will make its debut at the festival in three weeks and will be on display for the entire run of the week long festival. Once it has made its debut at the festival, I will be able to post full pictures for everyone to see. Only a few more weeks. Sadly, I will not be able to be there to see the debut of the quilt, but I have put Dr. Gaither on notice that she is to designate one of her friends to be her "official" photographer and get photos for the blog. If I am really daring, perhaps I will venture into the realm of teaching her how to put photos on her computer and upload them to the blog. She keeps swearing her computer is about to blow up on her, so it might not happen. Then again, it could just be her way of getting out of blogging.

So that is Dr. Gaither's excuse for not blogging. It is a partial excuse on my part as well since I have spent many a day and night helping to work on the quilt. I slowed down my involvement on that somewhat after Dr. Gaither threatened to "get me" multiple times after I went through her multiple lists of people, places, and organizations that needed to be added to the quilt and found several omissions. Lets just say for one of the lists, the number was in the triple digits! I will fill you in on that once I can post pictures.

As for the rest of my excuses (and a little self promotion) I have been taking up the community involvement aspect of Dr. Gaither's work and applying it to my own. I just completed the second phase of a great project called Music to Our Ears: The Sounds of the African American Experience at Carr's and Sparrow's Beaches. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Carr's and Sparrow's Beaches, they were two segregation-era hot spots located just outside of Annapolis where African Americans spent their summers relaxing by the water and taking in the biggest musical acts of the day such as James Brown, Aretha Franklin, the Drifters, the Supremes, and many more. These two family-run beaches brought in audiences from all over the East Coast including audiences of 40,000 people for the James Brown concerts. Not bad considering the current population of Annapolis is around 35,000 people. Can you imagine doubling the size of the city for a day?

Very little research has been done on these sites and the people who attended, worked, and performed there are aging quickly. The Coordinator of Social Studies for Anne Arundel County and I put our heads together and came up with the Music to Our Ears project where high school students learn about the beaches as well as how to do oral history interviews. Then the students go out into the community and conduct oral history interviews as well as gather photographs and other memorabilia from their friends, family, and other community members. All of this is then compiled into a public presentation of some sort. Last year the students created a mini-documentary and this year they did an exhibition that opened at the Banneker-Douglass Museum just after Memorial Day and will be up through Labor Day. The project has been embraced by the community and has kept me running and off the blog for the last several months. Now that the project is on break for the summer, I am able to return to my blogging and other activities.

So there you have it. Our mea culpa and reasons for our absence. I promise a plethora of posts to come in the next few weeks and lots of pictures to make up for our absence. Thanks for hanging in there with us!