Martinsville councilwoman offended by quilt students presented as gift to city council
WBDJ7: MARTINSVILLE, Va.— A city councilwoman says a quilt made by a group of students should not be allowed to hang in the Martinsville City administration building. She says the quilt is offensive to African Americans. But the students who made it say it showcases what they learned working on a special project.
It was supposed to be a nice gesture from students at the Piedmont Governor’s School in Martinsville. Each student made a quilt square.
But one representing their journey learning about the area with a black stick figure offended councilwoman Sharon Brooks-Hodge.
Here’s what happened:
“We got to walk across the Philpott Dam and the small black person represents us before we learned all the information and then the bigger gold person is how he feels after he’s been enriched with all the different knowledge,” a student said as she showed the quilt to council members.
The student started explaining another quilt square when Councilwoman Hodge had a comment. “Excuse me. Um, why is the small black person the negative image?” Hodge said.
“It’s not negative. It’s just showing how much we increased,” was the student’s response, to which Hodge replied: “I take offense to that.” “I didn’t mean to make it offensive,” another student said.
“Whoever reviewed that to make a small black person the before and the gold which you are afterwards, considering you only talked to 10 percent of black people in a city that’s 45 percent African-American, I take offense to that and I hope that you do not display that,” Hodge said.
One student started crying and a teacher explained the black figure had nothing to do with race.
Councilman Danny Turner was sitting just a few feet away. “These children are two generations away from that and black, white, green, or blue they’re not, they don’t see those things,” Turner said.
WDBJ received a statement the Martinsville chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People gave select members of city council. It reads quote:
“This young man had not received training on how offensive depictions like this were to people of color. If he had, this incident could have been avoided. The city already has issues with the Black community; this does not help matters at all.”
Turner said he visited the Governor’s school yesterday and apologized for what happened.
He says students are still upset. The students still gave the quilt to the city. We’re told it will stay in an office until city council makes a decision whether or not to hang it up.
If it does get approved, it will have a disclaimer describing the quilt square.
Why did this councilwoman make a big deal over this – is it really racist? Seems to me she made a big deal out of nothing, instead of graciously accepting this quilt made by the students.