DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It all began after the ladies of the Pleasant Hill Quilt Club read the book “Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad,” by Jacqueline Tobin and Raymond Dobard.
The group wanted to do some type of Black History Month performance for their church, but hadn’t decided what. It was then the women set out on a journey, interweaving slave field songs and old-time hymns with an educational narrative about quilts and the Underground Railroad. That was the birth of the play “The Secret Codes of the Underground Railroad.”READ MORE: Teen Murder Suspect Cristian Gonzalez Planned To Flee To Mexico, Confesses To Killing Felix Rios Instead
The play explains how slaves made quilts with specific coded patterns and used them to navigate their road to freedom.
The group did their first performance in 2005 and was invited to perform the play at a couple of other area churches.
Fast-forward to 2012, and the women have more than two dozen engagements scheduled for their current season. They’ll crisscross the state of Texas, travel to parts of Arkansas and will even give a performance at Tuskegee University in Alabama – a historically black college and university (HBCU).
North Texans had one of several opportunities to watch the performance on February 18. The Pleasant Hill Quilt Club will also perform Saturday, March 17, at 11 a.m. at the Greater Emanuel Baptist Church at 2110 E. 11th in Dallas.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Is Another Relief Payment Coming?
The Pleasant Hill Quilters and play performers range in age from 60 to 93 years old.
The narrative is for educational purposes and is free to the public, but the group does accept donations to help restore and preserve a piece of Texas history — the Pleasant Hill School, which was part of the Julius Rosenwald School Building Program. The program was established in 1917 for the advancement of African-American (then referred to as “Negro”) education in the rural south.
The two-room Pleasant Hill School, which was built in 1925, is listed with the Texas Historical Commission and is on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of Interior. At its peak just two teachers at the Pleasant Hill School taught some 70 students. Classes were held for children attending grades one through eight.
By 1964 the student population had dwindled and the school was closed.
Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington constructed more than 5,300 Rosenwald Schools between 1918 and 1932 — with more than 500 of those built in Texas. Today only about 10 percent of the buildings remain standing.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 Cases At Cook Children's Medical Center Back To Rates Seen In February 2021
Donations for the historic Pleasant Hill School can be sent to PO Box 57, Linden, Texas 75563.