Step by step and stitch by stitch, Liberty County residents are apparently getting support from across the state for its historic preservation efforts with a recent donation of a custom-made, commemorative quilt from an Atlanta-area company.
Last weekend, the Dorchester Improvement Association held the Walk to Dorchester. It is a 9.1-mile trek from Riceboro to Dorchester Academy in Midway where participants retrace the route local black students made for an education during times of racial inequality.
Dorchester was also a meeting place for civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Walk to Dorchester event serves as an annual fundraiser to preserve and revitalize the nearly 150-year-old Dorchester Academy, deemed a national historic landmark.
The Dorchester Improvement Association made a special presentation during breakfast after the walk.
They held up a 16-square, handmade quilt customized with every Walk to Dorchester T-shirt since it began in 2000.
“We’re on the precipice, I think, of something really big,” DIA president Bill Austin told the crowd Saturday while explaining recent progresses and Dorchester’s latest designation on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.
Board member Helen Austin explained the quilt started from her sister, Betty McCray.
“She’s always had this idea to make a quilt of all the shirts, so she got on the internet,” Austin explained.
McCray came across Shirt Off Your Back Quilts, based in Roswell, Ga.
Though she is a business, owner Amy Walsh agreed to make the quilt for free.
“When Betty contacted me about the Dorchester Walk, I was immediately interested,” Walsh said by email. “I had never heard of the walk or the school, but now that I am aware of it, I am honored to take even a small part in keeping the history and story alive.”
Walsh explained that Shirt Off Your Back Quilts aims to donate five quilts a year.
“To me, taking money from a non-profit organization just doesn’t feel right,” she said. “We have been in business since 2006 and for the last 10 years or so, we have made it a priority to give back to our community.”
The Walk to Dorchester quilt is a “traditional gallery style quilt,” Walsh described, with a color scheme specifically selected to reflect the school building’s bricks.
“We hope that the quilt will serve as a testimony to the commitment and hard work that Betty and the others at the Dorchester school have (done) to preserve this national treasure,” Walsh said.
The Walk to Dorchester commemorative quilt will be on display at the Dorchester museum.
For more information, contact the museum at 912-884-2347.