Claudia and De'Lon Charley (daughter of Tinnie Pettway) work tirelessly to improve the community of Gees Bend. They have once again been successful in bringing attention to the Gees Bend community. Ebony Stitchers was invited to participate in the activity.
On May 1, 2010 at their annual May Day celebration, the Gees Bend community installed an historical marker indicating the founding of the community and its significance. The guest list at this historic event included a very prestigious list of elected officials and candidates, including the current African American gubernatorial candidate of Alabama, Mr. Artur Davis. Mr. Davis has supported the artistic fame experienced by Tinnie and Minnie Pettway for quite some time.
The Gees Bend May Day celebration takes place each year on the first Saturday in May. Gees Benders, their relatives and friends travel from all over the country to attend this event. The event started with a parade. There was food, speeches, lots of elected officials and candidates and oh, did I say FOOD! There were attendees from as far away as Chicago, IL. and as close by as Selma, Al. There was B-B-Q’s, lots of “family” named T-shirts – i.e. “Boykin”, “Pettway” - music, monster sized 4 wheel motor bikes, motorcycles and softball games. The event was an outpouring of community pride and enthusiasm. It was a good down home, ole’ fashioned, neighborly and genuine good time – it was all about “family” and the tradition of life in a small community. The May Day celebration was totally done Southern style – yes there was also a May poll.
The Gees Bend May Day event was, by far, the most enjoyable southern B-B-Q experience I’ve encountered. It was worth driving the 500+ miles. I enjoyed viewing the installation of the historic marker and witnessing the outpouring of family life – Gees Bend style!