Black history quilt exhibition both beautiful and jarring at Detroit Unity Temple

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Roughly 60 handmade quilts are on display in what has been called a beautiful tribute to cruelty at the Detroit Unity Temple this month.

One woman created a display of the heroes and martyrs killed by racism and hate.

"Her quilt is so meaningful that when people see it they have to stand and look and internalize what the quilt is saying," said Shirley Phillips. 

One took three years to make and hangs as a tribute to the countless African-Americans killed by lynch mobs.

"Three years of crying every day while sewing on the quilt," said April Shipp, fiber artist. "The quilt is comprised of African-American men, women and children who were murdered, who were lynched, in this country, in America in a 100-year period."

April Shipp made this quilt and says the 5,000 names on it are the only ones she could find. There are hundreds, if not thousands more.

"And even on this quilt there are states like Louisiana that has a long list of known people, but it also has 993 unidentified people in that state," Shipp said. "No kidding."

Many of the pieces, crafted by black Metro-Detroiters, highlight prominent black Americans and draw on the history of slaves forced to mend patches of scrap fabric into something useable for themselves.

"What you see with the quilts is a continuation of history," said Pastor Gregory Guice.

"We have all kinds, most of them are based on afro history, but we also have some vintage quilts here and regular quilts here," she said.

This is the sixth year the quilts have been on display at Detroit Unity Temple, 17505 2nd Avenue. For more information, go to their Facebook page or call (313) 345-4848.