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SUNDAY

Despite systematic attempts to stamp out expressions of their heritage, enslaved Africans in the United States continued to practice their culture in secret. Forbidden to learn to read or write, they used signs and symbols as mnemonic devices and to preserve oral traditions. Slaves also kept the custom of displaying these designs on textiles. In some cases, quilt patterns, with their origins in African and Masonic symbolism, served as road maps to freedom. In Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, co-authors Jacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard, drawing on the oral accounts of South Carolina quilt maker Ozella McDaniel Williams, embark on an international quest for the hidden meanings of the African-American quilts that were used as signals on the Underground Railroad. Tobin and Dobard discuss their book at 4:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 12089 Rockville Pike, Rockville. Free. (301) 881-0237. (Dawn L. Hannaham)