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The African American Collection

Courageous Quilt

Courageous
Carolyn Crump
c2011
Houston, Texas
Fabric paint, charcoal pencil, machine quilting
46” x 36”
MSUM 2012:106.1
Purchased with support from the MSU Foundation and Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong, all rights reserved Michigan State University Museum

In creating this tribute to Nelson Mandela, I wanted to symbolize each hardship on his path, as well as his inspiring triumphs.  He stands with his back to the viewer, his actual prisoner number across his shoulders above the slogans he fought for and refused to give up in 1963.  In his hands, clasped behind his back, are the old and new South African flags. At the lowest center edge of the quilt are 27 stones, representing each year he was incarcerated for fighting for equality. Move up the left side, and you see him at hard labor, as the African National Congress flag flies behind him- emblem of the party he would lead.  Nelson Mandela stares out the prison bars, seeing his own past and future: his fist held out the window on the prison bus; the armed prison guard who actually became his friend through years of incarceration; his own, older face as President; and finally, Nelson Mandela casting a vote which is the inalienable right his courage won for all South Africans.  His Nobel Peace Prize on the right speaks volumes in five words - A Long Walk to Freedom.

-- Carolyn Crump



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