The Center’s Quilt from 45 Nations
by Ruwa Romman
Have you experienced "Justice We Shall Pursue" at The Center? This is the name of the quilt that hangs on the lower level of the Center for Civil and Human Rights just outside the gallery where the rotating exhibitions from The Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection are displayed. This quilt was donated to The Center by a group of Georgia quilters who wanted to create a piece of art that embodied the connections between different civil and human rights movements around the world.
The Peach State Stitchers believe in the Jewish notion of Tzedakah. Tzedakah, which is like charity, incorporates the idea of justice and righteousness through selfless acts. The Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework (the organization of which The Peach State Stitchers is a chapter) has been carrying on the tradition of Tzedakah since its inception in 1977, when it began donating "quilts with meaning" to various organizations.
In 2009, during a meeting of the Peach State Stitchers, Barbara Flexner suggested that their next quilt be gifted to The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Inc. At the time, she read that the organization was working on the opening of the Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta and felt that it would be the perfect home for their next project. They approached then Executive Director (now exiting CEO) Doug Shipman, who happily agreed.
Two of the member artists, Flor Rosefsky and Anne Mandel, met several times to work on a proposed rendering. They decided it would be a five-foot-square wall hanging depicting hope and freedom around the world. The quilt, which has both hand embroidery and machine embroidery, took three and one-half years to complete because it was passed from person to person.
"Justice We Shall Pursue" went through several phases of planning. The quilters first decided to include 12 quotes from famous people from all walks of life. Harriet Zoller researched the quotes and got approval from the museum. It was then passed on to Bobbi Gross who hand-embroidered the center quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, “The Future Belongs To Those Who Believe In The Beauty Of Their Dreams.” Once those two pieces were complete, Linda Stein machine-embroidered the remaining quotes.
The quilt itself is made of fabrics from 45 countries and was sewn together by Rina Wolfe. The quilt image began to take shape as the hands of hope were sewn by Ivah Kukler with the background by Rina Wolfe, Arlene Poretsky and Lynn Slomsky.
The design evolved and final touches were decided by Flora Rosefsky and Anne Mandel. Judy Sternberg, Cathy Korotkin, Luci Sunshine, Vilma Arenson and Jackie Granath all put loving stitches in the quilt. Pamela Rishfeld sewed the back of the quilt. A beautiful Bird of Peace was beaded by Barbara Rucket which finished off the project.
The quilt now hangs outside Voice to the Voiceless: The Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection Gallery. It embodies the connections between different Civil and Human Rights movements here and around the world. So many fabrics merging into one design on this quilt exemplify the importance of many different elements coming together to form a better and bigger whole. The Center is immensely grateful for such a meaningful gift. Visit us today and see it for yourself!