Congratulations to Roland Freeman, one of 12 recipients of the National Endowment of the Arts - National Heritage Fellowships. According to the NEA:
"Roland Freeman, recommended as the Bess Lomax Hawes Award recipient, was inspired by the socially conscious Depression-era photography of Gordon Parks and Roy DeCarava as well as the Farm Security Administration photographers. At age 14, he met the author/folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, who also greatly influenced his life's work. A native of Baltimore, he began photographing in the DC area in the late 1960s. In 1968, he participated in and documented the Poor People's Campaign and the Mule Train trip from Marks, MS, to the nation's capital. Even while working as a stringer for Time and Magnum Photos, including coverage as a White House photographer, his real passion throughout his career has been the documentation of Southern folk culture."
Freeman is a pillar in preserving African American quilt and quilting history! He has documented sistah and brother quilters since his landmark Something to Keep You Warm: The Roland Freeman Collection of Black American Quilts from the Mississippi Heartland (1981). Raise your hand if you're one of the many quilters Roland Freeman photographed over a twenty year period and captured in the must-have book and must-see exhibit A Communion of the Spirits: African American Quilters, Preservers, and Their Stories. Freeman photographed quilters in more than 38 US states. Friends thought I was crazy when I invited Mr. Freeman to stay at my home in Kansas City when he made his cross-country trip to capture quilters in the Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska area.... I had never met him, but was amazed by his National Geographic photographs. A collection of Mr. Freeman's quilts are at the Smith Robertson Museum in Jackson, MS. Blessings to Roland Freeman for the NEA honor! (Photo: Self-portrait of Roland L. Freeman with nine of his quilts.)