Freedom Seekers

At the heart of the National African American Quilt Convention are the stories of freedom seekers Maria Rodgers Martin, Sarah Elizabeth Taylor Lawton, and John Anthony Copeland. Each person’s journey highlights the struggle for freedom and identity against the backdrop of the Civil War and the Underground Railroad. Their lives, marked by courage and the quest for liberation, serve as the foundation for discussions on what freedom truly means, inviting a deeper exploration of historical complexities and personal resilience.

Click the images below to learn more about these remarkable individuals.

Maria Rodgers Martin

Sarah Elizabeth Taylor Williams Lawton

John Anthony Copeland


Get to know our speakers, each experts in their fields, and come listen as they bring to life the narratives of those who sought freedom. Click on their photos below to read their bios and learn more about their contributions to this important dialogue.

Marla Arna Jackson

Diane Miller

Brenda Pitts

Marvin Robinson

Holly Zane


Joan Zionjah Wilson

Dr. Ayesha Hardison

Dr. Carmaletta Williams

Dr. Alex Kimball Williams

Marland Jean Roberts


Stories For All