I read a lot of memoirs but Quilt of Souls by Phyllis Lawson grabbed me and lingers in my mind even several months later. Here’s the message I emailed the author: “I really see your book as equal to Maya Angelou’s writing.”
She replied, “Thank you, Virginia, that’s a pretty high compliment and praise. To be compared to Maya Angelou is an honor. She was one of my favorites.”
Aside from her story which is compelling, I felt she brought up historic patterns and influences in black lives that both whites and blacks may be unaware of. The Black Lives Matter movement is tapping into many unresolved issues in race relations. Her book shows how this traces back to slavery days.
As a four-year-old, Phyllis fell to the care of her grandparents as her overburdened parents struggled to make a living. Feeling abandoned in a strange place, she gradually blossomed while learning life skills and family history from her aged grandmother.
As she learned the basics of quilting from Grandma Lula, the vintage fabrics from relatives’ discarded clothing served as links to the past. The stories shared as they stitched these into quilts told of hardship, oppression, and fortitude. It was the story of our country’s mistreatment of a race through slavery and through structured repression but brought to life through the oral history of her ancestors.
Her vivid descriptions of her childhood take us to that dusty yard in Alabama where a fearful child hid under the porch. Light filtered through to her while overhead the grown-ups fanned themselves and talked about their lives.
Please check out the author’s webpage, Quilt of Souls and her Facebook page for the book. The author page lists upcoming events from California to New York City. You can contact her publicist, James Fontenot, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-946-9111 to arrange for her to speak at your quilt guild, genealogy club or other groups.