by Diane Britton Dunham
The painting was inspired by Anita Singleton-Prather and her singing ensemble The Gullah Kinfolk from Beaufort, South Carolina. It is Christmas 1860, the last Christmas before the Civil War begins. The plantation households were more relaxed during holidays and encouraged enslaved people to embrace the Christmas story. In the painting the storyteller speaks of following the star, however her listeners know she is not referring to the star of the nativity but she is sharing directions for escape in the UNDERGROUND RAILROAD; coded symbols in the painting include; North Star Quilt which appears to be put out to air but actually used as a mnemonic device, the man playing guitar is singing “Follow The Drinking Gourd,” another reference to following the north star in big dipper constellation.
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