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Arts & Culture

Durham Homicide Quilt Reaches 20 Years, Nearly 700 Names

For nearly 20 years, Sidney Brodie has sewn a new patch to the Durham Homicide and Victims of Violent Deaths Quilt each time a homicide occurs in the city.

He began the quilt in 1998 with the name of Shaquanna Attwater, a 2-year-old girl killed while playing on her front lawn in 1994. Today, the quilt has almost 700 names on it.

It's a beautiful quilt, but it's about an ugly situation, and who really wants to look at an ugly situation? But the quilt, it grabs the eye of anybody that comes in its presence. -Sidney Brodie

"She was unknown to me, but just knowing that young black men were shooting where little girls are playing set me in motion," Brodie said.

In recent years, Brodie's also included names of people who have died in police-involved shootings. He notes that gun violence affects people across all communities in Durham, but that the quilt is evidence to the fact that it hits African-American neighborhoods hardest.

"These deaths are number one, senseless," Brodie said. "They're numerous, and it's happening to everyone. But [there's] more black men on this quilt than you can shake a stick at. The discrepancy of the numbers is just alarming."

Brodie now displays the quilt at local events and vigils for gun violence victims. He says it's meant to be an educational tool.

"And it's a very powerful tool," Brodie said. "You've got almost 700 souls attached to this quilt. I feel like there's an attachment to these people. I feel like they are helping open some doors and open some hearts and minds for a change in society and the way we do business."

One of the most recent names added to the quilt was that of Kamari Munerlyn, a 7 year-old boy killed in June. Brodie brought the quilt to Munerlyn's memorial vigil to bring attention to violence.

Brodie says he hopes to retire the quilt soon for permanent display. He's waiting until he has brought the quilt to 120 events or until Durham goes 120 days without a homicide.

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