Unwinding Local Threads of African American History: Seniors’ Fabrics Course Becomes Sharing Point

Linda Salley, president, African American Museum of Bucks County
Image via Paul F. Wesley at Bucks County Magazine.

Quilting has always been about capturing family history, those multigenerational stories of the past, good and bad. Cynthia Marone, for Bucks County Magazine, uncovered one local quilter’s cache of personal accounts. 

Linda Salley, president of the African American Museum of Bucks County, taught fabric design and creation at a local senior center. As the residents gathered around her craft table, their stories unspooled along with their threads. 

Establishing the proper atmosphere for open conversation took time. Almost a year, Salley admits. 

“For African Americans, everything is a secret. You have to understand what African Americans went through. Their life is not like your life. They went through some struggles. They have to believe that you won’t do anything to hurt them.”  

Salley heard stories of them coming north. Of escaping racism. Of segregation. And searching for safety, stability, and work. 

Her sharp ear for history helped her museum work. 

She oversaw its current exhibit, “Building on the Dream: From Africa to Bucks County.” The display memorializes the lives, accomplishments, and contributions of local Black residents, including those preserved only by intergenerational oral history. 

“It’s our history,” Salley said. “Every day there’s history — every day — with stories that need to be told.” 

More on this display, and its curator, is at Bucks County Magazine. 

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