Hearts for Charleston Quilt — Dee

My block honors Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. She was 45 at the time of her death and left behind three children. As a part-time minister at Emanuel AME, a speech and language pathologist at Goose Creek High School, and also the coach of the girls’ field and track team, her death impacted a wide circle of people.


image from NBC news

IMG_0498She was said to have run ‘cheek to cheek’ with her athletes — a method of inspiring runners to perform at their best level. Imagine that: a grown woman, strong and swift, pacing her high school students on the track, pushing them to go faster. It’s an unshakable image. I also read that there were times when she ‘prayed so hard that the tears fell down her face’. And her smile! Look at that smile! Apparently, Rev. Coleman-Singleton was known to wear that smile even when disciplining her students!

Not long before the bullets began to fly, she took a call from one of her children. I am grateful the phone call was over before the violence erupted. It was a mundane, housekeeping kind of call — letting one of her children know where she had hidden the game controller. The three stitched hearts on the left are for her children: Chris, Caleb, and Camryn.
IMG_0500Synchronicity lead me to dedicate my heart to Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton.  At my town’s vigil for Charleston, the person who read the prayer for her wore an unusual dress. I actually gasped when I recognized it, because I had used fabric from an identical dress (purchased ages ago in a thrift store) for my block .The quilt square was in my purse, in fact, at the time – I wanted the cloth to be in the energy of our town’s memorializing and prayers.
When I read about Rev. Coleman-Singleton’s life, I wanted to honor her even more — in part because one of my boys ran track for four years in high school and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the experience changed his life. Because of his first coach. When you start counting up all the people touched by Rev. Coleman-Singleton’s life, it really makes you shake your head.

Eulogizing her, Mayor Riley of Charleston said, “In each of her roles, everyone she touched, their personality changed. That is passed on and that’s how a community is changed.”

I used some of the indigo strips that I dyed while at a workshop outside of Charleston last September, as well as that cut up dress mentioned above and some fabric dyed here in Massachusetts in my back yard.

The nine patch in the center of the heart is mis-aligned, but I left it that way. It, of course, stands for the nine deceased. Those squares are silk and have a slight sheen to them, which makes me think of how memory shines after a person is gone. I’m not sure the block is quite done yet.IMG_0507

IMG_0193Some of the double exposures that I created during this time were visual explorations about faith, death, and martyrdom. The ‘African Christ’ figure made ages ago appears above.
One more square is winging its way to Massachusetts from Montana as I type and a block arrived from New Jersey yesterday (stay tuned!). Soon it will be time to assemble the quilt.
Many of the contributions honor all nine of the deceased. Others honor a single person. I haven’t yet resolved how this will determine the final quilt (i.e., if one is honored, shouldn’t they all be?). Furthermore, when with this in mind I started a block for Tywanza Sanders, my online reading revealed the agonizing fact that his mother watched him die. That particular article made the point that the “Charleston Nine” really ought to be the “Charleston Twelve”.
More on this as I go.
To read more about this project,
please refer to the the sidebar category:
“Hearts for Charleston Quilt”.

20 thoughts on “Hearts for Charleston Quilt — Dee

  1. handstories

    I am heart-struck by those three little hearts, and her smile. Your square and words really bring home the message of every life matters. We all touch each other. ox
    wondering if you might put out another call for squares, to represent the individuals who have not been stitched for yet, to represent all twelve? I am holding Tywanza’s mama in my thoughts.

    1. deemallon

      Cindy I would love it if you made a square for Tywanza’s mother. She feigned death, covering the body of a grandchild. Tywanza tried to talk the killer out of what he was about to do and was the first one shot. I’m sure you can find more out about her.

      1. handstories

        Thank you, I would love to be a part of this, but do you have a due date in mind? I would hate to hold you up. Details? 10 1/4 in. sq, woven background, 4in. heart, no names on it, anything else?

        1. deemallon

          I am still waiting for another square so it would somewhat depend on how quickly you would get to this. If you go to side bar and click on the link and scroll back you’ll find a post on specs but you essentially have it.

  2. ravenandsparrow

    I love your background checkerboard, and the continuation of the pattern on the heart via french knots. The three hearts, and all of your writing reminds me of the other lives affected by the murder of each of these people. Because of your description of your process, the view your block projects is highly personal and closely focused (like Liz’s) on the loss all have suffered. It is beautiful.

    The dedication of some blocks but not others has been hanging since the beginning. I thought you were going to choose which one to dedicate to whom. Certainly everyone should be included somehow. Maybe sashing with names embroidered? Sheer voile tags basted over the a small area of each block? Going in boldly and adding a name to each? I feel sure you will pull this together perfectly.

    1. deemallon

      Thanks Dana. I do wish I had sorted out the naming prior to this point and was going to finesse it, but both Nancy, Maggie and I had clear honorees so I will be including all the names in embroidery. Thanks for suggestions.

  3. Liz

    The double exposures really resonate for me … especially given the staggering number of deaths that continue to appear on the news. How is it possible for there to be so much hatred?

    1. deemallon

      I know. Part of the power of this exercise is to continue to hold that day and those people in my consciousness, because the deaths just keep coming.

  4. RainSluice

    So many layers of sadness, in the woven cloth, the cloth of comforting and stitched to try to mend, to heal, and how it does reveal the truth! (I need to catch up on how the death toll has reached 12). The big red muscular heart of the runner, the graceful heart of the mother and relentlessness pumping of the coach. How could this heart have been stopped? Each symbol tuned and clear to our eyes. Beautiful, so calm in its demeanor yet loud in message.

  5. Nancy

    The 3 small hearts, the 9 patch askew…all is not right with the world Dee. Thank you so much for all of this. In all of my trying to get it done, I forgot about the no name part until I read Cindy’s comment. Feel free to remove Cynthia’s name if it works better for the whole. Something that I really noticed while in Boston last week were all of the signs in the yards of homes and churches claiming “Black lives matter”. I don’t see that out here. That bothers me. I sure wish we could have connected. I would have loved to see the amazing work everyone has done for reals, in person!

    1. deemallon

      I would have loved to have been available. Getting my sister to a dental clinic was — well, many weeks overdue. She was finally ready and it was important to go.

      The wedding looked beautiful !!

      Don’t worry about the name. I should have sorted this out earlier but I’ll be figuring it out in the next few weeks. I won’t be taking the name off,tho. I know that.


Leave a Reply