Friday, January 18, 2019

Dr. Raymond G. Dobard (1947-2019)

Dr. Raymond G. Dobard, quilter, historian, Howard University professor and co-author of the best selling and influential book Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, has passed. Dr. Dobard was a professor of art at Howard University for 35 years and retired in 2010.  I remember his kindness when I visited his office at the School of Fine Arts there with notes I was gathering for what would become my book, Black Threads. Later we spoke on a panel in DC for a National Parks Service event. I marveled at his beautiful quilting. We've lost an important quilting soul.

You can read more about Dr. Dobard at Hear him speak about Hidden in Plain View on these C-span videosEnjoy.


karen simpson said...

So sad to hear this

Unknown said...

Very sad to hear this. Thank you for documenting our history.

Mageleus said...

It's sad to hear that. But now I want to read his book :(
Unfortunately, I do not read books so often, but I found interesting books here where there are incredible books that became bessellers!

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Niki D said...

Bless you for educating us about Dr Raymond Dobar. I just learned of him from an article about his book you mentioned, "Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad. I did not know he was deceased. I am heartbroken to learn that. Bless you for keeping his work alive and for updating us.

Anonymous said...

As a fine arts professor, Dr. Dobard was not of course qualified as a historian generally, and in his publications and lectures it's obvious just how far he overstepped in supposing that the Afro symbol/Griot weaving tradition survived into the 1800s to be used in the "Underground Railroad" as practiced in the United States. He in fact has never provided documentation of beyond oral tradition, and that oral tradition originating from one extended family three generations past slavery times. In fact hundreds of former slaves had been documented with interviews regarding their experience during slavery times, including testimony about the methods and codes used in the underground railroad -- yet not one of those documented and verified accounts had even vaguely referenced that visual symbols woven into quilts were commonly understood among slaves to be directions on the underground railroad.

Still, as talking points, the slave message quilt myth has generated much interest in underground railroad history generally, even while disregarding the actual intelligence and cleverness that freedom-seekers were capable of -- they employing far more sophisticated methods and codes compared to simple pictographs in quilts (so simple that obviously, slavecatchers would have quickly caught on to it and rendered it ineffective).

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