Photo credit: Henry A. Barrios

Story originally published by Bakersfield.com.

The election of Barack Obama as America's first black president made history, but for Lanora Frazier, it was much more personal than that.

Raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Lanora and her family uprooted their lives to escape the racial tension of the South during the Civil Rights movement, moving west to California.

"It was a painful era," Lanora's mother, Beulah, told Bakersfield.com. "It's why we're so deeply interested and take pride [in black history]."

The swearing in of America's first black president was something the family never thought they would see, and inspired Lanora to create something in honor of the historical event. An avid sewer since her teenage years, and also a retired home economics teacher, Lanora decided to make a quilt that contained hand-embroidered faces of the first 44 presidents.

"If I'm going to do it, I'm going to do my very best on it," Lanora told Bakersfield.com. "There's not one sewing machine stitch. Everything is handmade."

Her perfection mindset made her completion timeline much longer than anticipated. What she thought would only take a couple years ended up lasting nearly eight years, finishing the quilt in the last month of Obama's term.

The detail on Lanora's 52x79" quilt is what she's especially proud of, such as wrinkle lines around the eyes, a glare in Theodore Roosevelt's glasses, and other three-dimensional features. The inspiration for the quilt, however, was given a slightly larger square to represent Lanora's passion for black history.

"We want [Obama] to see this," Beulah said. "Because he was the first black president, that goes with our pride.  We want him to see how much we appreciate it."

Lanora gifted the quilt to her mother. The two are looking for a way to preserve the masterpiece so that it can last for years to come.

Photo credit: Henry A. Barrios
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