Black Lives Matter Quilt

Middle School Friends

The Black Lives Matter Quilt was a joint project of the First Day School and adult members of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting of Friends. Each square represents a victim of gun violence in African American neighborhoods of Philadelphia from January through April 2016. Member Pamela Haines collected the clippings and each child chose one. Over several months they designed the squares and worked with cloth, needles and thread, and fabric markers to create a memorial to that person. It gave First Day School a chance to share together about many issues including racism, poverty, crime, injustice and the legacy of slavery.

At a spring Meeting weekend, a dozen adult members took unfinished squares from the First Day School project and completed them. Later, Deborah Caiola (Lower School Art Teacher) and students from Friends Select School scanned and printed out the clippings onto fabric and then attached them to their squares. Then a small group of CPMM members and Friends Select teachers assembled the quilt. Our member and fabric artist Lynda Black contributed three small woven vessels as an additional representation of our desire to hold these lives.

Everyone who participated has been moved by this project. It has helped us to ‘hold in the light’ the families and victims of gun violence as well as those who are silent witnesses, to make visible our belief that black lives matter, and to share the common grief of too much violence in our world.

We are now taking the quilt on the road. Our First Day School traveled to Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting the 5th Sunday in October, shared our experience during First Day School, and then displayed the quilt and answered questions at Rise of Meeting. Next stop was Plymouth Meeting Friends where it hung until The EMIR fundraiser on December 9th. You can read more about that organization here:

After that it was displayed at IN BLUE, a fundraiser for Black Lives Matter and NAACP at L’etage near South Street.

Then it traveled to Abington Friends Meeting during the Middle School Friends Gathering where students saw their handiwork and held a candle light vigil. It will stay with AFMM until it leaves for Friends Select in February when the Black Student Union will present it at meeting for worship. Let us know if you would be interested in hosting the quilt- we’d be happy to share it with you!

Grace Gonglewski
CPMM Member and First Day School Clerk