Every mother dreams that her child will grow up safe, healthy and happy. Unfortunately, too many American mothers see their dreams for their children shattered by gun violence.
Moms Demand Action has created The Mother’s Dream Quilt Project to symbolize the human toll of gun violence in America, as well as mothers’ shared commitment to making our country safer for our children.
Using fabric donated by mothers across the country, we created a series of quilts using a pattern known as “Mother’s Dream.” Each quilt contains at least one block composed of meaningful fabric from a victim or survivor of gun violence. These special blocks are surrounded by quilt blocks from mothers who share in our collective sadness over too many lives shattered by gunfire. Everyone who contributes also submits a statement of their “Mother’s Dream” for their children, or the story of the victim or survivor represented by the block. Click on a quilt block and read their stories below.
A quilting bee can sound like a throwback event. But even those of us who don't sew can sit with colors and shapes, and the dreams and memories they evoke. Many of us thought about our children, those we'd lost and those we hold dear. But we did not sit alone. Surrounded by others who share our concerns about gun violence, we found common ground. Our small triangles and squares became larger quilt squares which became the Tennessee Quilt. May every small act of resistance to gun violence add to the tapestry of hope and progress supported by Moms Demand Action.
“My dream is no more people dying.” A simple sentiment, expressed by six year-old Darianna.
When school lockdowns become the norm, when stopping to consider our safety at a neighborhood playground becomes second nature, the dreams of our children dim. Dreams of playing basketball. Helping injured animals. Becoming a lawyer. Directing a movie. Dreams like the one expressed by Christopher Underwood, who lost his 15 year-old big brother, Akeal Christopher, to gun violence. Christopher writes, “I want this block to remember my big brother, Akeal Christopher, who lost his life to gun violence. My dream is to become president. Also I want to be the best math student.” These dreams, expressed by children of all ages in the Children’s Dreams Quilt, reflect just a tiny fraction of a nation’s youth plagued by gun violence.
Nine children a day taken by guns. Nine dreams lost. The sentiments expressed here reflect a hope for a world where gun violence is, as one statement tells us, “merely a memory.” Will we hear the urgent plea? The fight for sensible gun safety measures, universal background checks, and common sense gun legislation is driven by Christopher’s dream and all those represented in this quilt.
Whether by inadequate storage of guns, drive-by shooting, or domestic dispute, Kentucky has felt the searing pain of gun violence. Young lives senselessly lost, like Jaleel Raglin. At only 16, Jaleel knew too well the toll of gun violence as many of his friends had been killed already. His mother says that despite this, he looked to the future with hope and was making plans. On the day he was shot and killed, September 25, 2012, he had just secured his first job.
The Bluegrass Quilt was created primarily by members of Moms Demand Action’s Kentucky Chapter, to be displayed as part of an exhibit that coincided with the NRA’s annual convention, that took place in Louisville in 2016.
This quilt is a powerful symbol of the patience, tenacity and passion of the Kentucky Moms, presented in the timeless form of a quilt. The quilt will long outlast so many of us, and its significance and beauty will continue to remind future generations of the work that Moms did and continue to do to make the world a safer place.
Juel Marifjeren, a veteran, husband, father and dedicated volunteer soccer coach, was shot and killed on May 19, 1998 by a disgruntled former employee as he boarded the train after work. His son, Steve, just 11 years old at the time of the murder, said, “My dad was a real person. He was a great athlete himself, but he always worked with the kids who weren't so talented. He taught me patience and understanding...he cared about others.”
People who work with children feel the toll of our gun violence epidemic acutely. Physicians play a central role in educating parents about the crucial importance of responsible gun storage through programs like Be SMART (BeSMARTforKids.org); faith leaders counsel their congregants and educators worry about the active shooter drills that they and their students must endure.
This quilt is created by and dedicated to the people who have devoted their lives to helping children and teens.
From Columbine High School in Littleton to a Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, gun violence has hit Colorado with large-scale devastation. But, just as sadly, everyday acts of violence continue to impact the people who live in the Rocky Mountain state.
Many squares in this quilt were created by people who lost family members in mass shootings; others came from Coloradans whose loved ones were killed by domestic violence, or suicide. Those squares are surrounded by contributions from people who may not have been personally affected by gun violence, but who are supporters in the fight for common-sense gun laws.
Christopher Michael-Martinez, a student at the University of California Santa Barbara, was in a deli near campus when he was shot and killed by a young man on a violent rampage in May of 2014. The next day, Christopher's father, Richard Martinez, spoke to the nation in his grief, galvanizing millions of Americans with his rallying cry: "When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say, 'Stop this madness; we don't have to live like this?' Too many have died. We should say to ourselves: Not one more!"
We dedicate this quilt to the memory of Christopher Michael-Martinez, to all victims and survivors of gun violence, including those honored in these squares, and to the countless advocates inspired by Richard Martinez's words.
On Jan. 8, 2011, a gunman opened fire on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ “Congress in Your Corner” meeting in front of a Tucson-area Safeway grocery store. Nineteen people were shot; six of them died.
At quilting bees in Arizona, mothers who lost their children during the Safeway shooting worked alongside a child whose mother was killed in a drive-by shooting. A woman stitched together a block memorializing her sister, whose husband shot and killed her. A pastor expressed her dream for a world without gun violence.
Many families whose loved ones were killed or wounded at Safeway, and in shootings throughout the country, have committed themselves to fighting for common-sense gun laws. Through that fight, they have found comfort and friendship in one another, and in the thousands of fellow victims and survivors of gun violence who are seeking justice through the reform of our nation’s gun laws.
Those bonds of friendship were on display at the emotional Arizona quilting bees, where, as organizer Elizabeth Stember wrote, “sensitive and tender hands assisted victims and survivors in the stitching together of their blocks. We extend a special thank you to Jan Lundahl, Sherry Cain, Sandy Marvik, Reilly Zoda, Karen Yodice, Cynthia Langston Kirk and Pamela Keane for their compassionate assistance.”
In the words of Emily Rhee, whose husband - a surgeon - treated the Safeway victims in the emergency room: “From the ashes, in time, flowers grew. Flowers of friendship. Ties that will forever remain.”
Roxbury is a vibrant neighborhood of Boston that has been rocked by gun violence, and members of the Roxbury Presbyterian Church Social Impact Center meet monthly to remember the young men, women and children who died too soon. These monthly “conversations” are sponsored by the Cory Johnson Trauma Education Program, and they provide hope, solidarity and understanding for the families and individuals affected by the proliferation of guns on Roxbury’s streets.
Cory Johnson, who is memorialized in this quilt, was a church-going father of two who was fatally shot in May of 2010. The program bearing his name plants seeds of love, connection, and peace and healing in the community. Created by communities throughout the state of Massachusetts, the squares in this quilt reflect that sentiment, and remind us that we all share in the grief, and in the hope as well.
When Brishell Jones was a little girl, her grandmother, Patricia Jefferies, told her over and over again the story of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly - just as Brishell would grow up to become a beautiful young woman.
But in March of 2010, hours after Brishell had attended the funeral of a friend who had been fatally shot, Brishell herself was killed, along with three others, in a drive-by shooting that was part of a cycle of retaliation over a petty theft.
When creating a square for this quilt, Patricia chose a butterfly print to recall the stories she used to share with her granddaughter. But the symbolism of the butterfly goes beyond Brishell and her grandmother: Just as the flap of a butterfly’s wings can build into flight, an act of gun violence has ramifications that ripple far beyond the people immediately affected. The lost potential, the communal trauma, the barrage of news stories - there is no telling in which ways a fired bullet has altered the world.
Over a weekend in September 2014, thousands of visitors from around the country and the world came to the Brooklyn neighborhood of DUMBO for the annual DUMBO Arts Festival, where the first three completed quilts in the Mother’s Dream series were on display. For many visitors the quilts were the first time they could WITNESS the massive impact of gun violence. So many patterned squares, so many lives lost to gun violence: murder, domestic violence, suicide. Too much pain.
We encouraged guests to create their own squares. Some shared memories of loved ones lost to gun violence; others shared their life goals; and many shared their dreams of a safer future for all of us.
The affection between grandparents and their grandchildren is unique in both its purity and its simplicity: the quiet moments shared, the unconditional love conferred. But while grandparents revel in doting on their children’s children, many also share an apprehension about the world they will bequeath to their grandchildren.
This quilt is made of blocks submitted by grandparents and grandchildren united in their desire to see a country free of gun violence - a desire that resonates across the generations.
Every year, tens of thousands of guns make their way into the hands of criminals through illegal trafficking channels. These firearms contribute to the more than 12,000 gun murders in the United States each year. In the absence of common-sense federal gun laws that crack down on trafficking, criminals can easily transport guns from areas with lax laws into regions with strong laws. Known as the “Iron Pipeline,” this route is devastating to communities around the country, whose laws are undermined by the easy availability of guns the next state - or even the next town - over.
Despite the city’s gun sense policies, Chicago is tormented by a reputation for gun violence, in large part due to the thousands of crime guns traced to Indiana, Mississippi and even neighboring cities without common-sense laws.
This quilt surrounds survivor blocks memorializing 26 victims of Chicago gun violence with blocks of hope and support from states that are part of the Iron Pipeline. With this quilt, we hope to replace the flow of guns into our cities with a flood of love instead.
The Indy Quilt is made up primarily of squares that were created at a quilting bee in Indianapolis, where members of Moms Demand Action from around the country gathered to protest outside the National Rifle Association’s annual convention.
The Chicago Quilt stitches together 48 stories of people lost to gun violence: the honor student gunned down at a fastfood restaurant; the gun violence prevention advocate shot in her car on her way home from an anti-violence charity event; the dance loving teenager living with out of town relatives so he could escape Chicago’s violence, yet killed while visiting home over summer vacation. Chicago’s loss cannot be contained in the dimensions of a single quilt.
For each of the quilt’s 48 blocks, countless more stories can be told about the gun violence pervading the city’s communities. But at quilting bees at St. Sabina’s Church on Chicago’s south side and St. Martin De Porres Church on the city’s west side in the spring and summer of 2014, families met to share their grief and to memorialize these 48 friends, students, husbands, brothers, daughters and sons. The Chicago Quilt honors a community grieving -- a community still hoping to heal.
The Four Corners quilt - the first in our Mother’s Dream series - incorporates blocks from the four corners of the United States: the Northwest, Southwest, Northeast and Southeast. Blocks honoring victims and survivors are arranged in the center of the quilt, surrounded by blocks from men, women and children who dream of a world free of gun violence.
In January of 2010, Dana Monique Harvey committed suicide with a gun in Seattle, WA. A little over four years later, Dana’s mother, Zoe Ann Moore-Boddie joined about 10 other moms at the Freedom Church in South Seattle to hold a quilting bee honoring Dana’s life. The eight blocks in the center of the quilt were all created at that event; four of the squares contain pieces of Dana’s fuzzy baby blanket.
Dana was one of the 30,000 people killed by guns each year in the United States, yet her death touched an entire community - and so it goes with each of those 30,000 victims. The Fuzzy Blanket Quilt, with Dana’s blanket surrounded by squares contributed from mothers around the country, represents the broad community of mothers who grieve for each life lost.
To learn more about starting a quilting event in your area, fill out the form below and an organizer will be in touch.
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The Mother’s Dream Quilt Project is an ongoing collaboration by a group of passionate and dedicated volunteers. Special thanks to Sarah Doyle, Jaime Pessin, Ann Haaser and June Rubin; Stacy Gorman, Janina Bandi, Jaime Bedrin, Beth Eisgrau-Heller, Jenna Fox, Wayne Rhodes and Elizabeth Stember; and to everyone who has opened their homes and communities to host quilting bees.