Sat, 02 Jul 2022

Participants also made artworks or wrote words on the quilts in commemoration of their family members who died of the coronavirus.

"To the person who was dad or mom to me!" read one line with heart-shaped drawings. "Thank you for giving me wisdom, self-respect, teaching me to have love for my mind and body. Thanks for showing me what a mom is," read another one.

The markings and patterns in quilts were used as a way to send messages and learn where to go when Black people escaped from slavery hundreds of years ago, according to Green-Johnson.

"It (quilt) is definitely very tightly woven into who we are as people and so we wanted to, in this way, remember (it)," said Green-Johnson.

© Provided by Xinhua

Green-Johnson added she lost her father to COVID-19 in April 2020 and organizers of the yearly event came up with the idea of quilt making as a way to help people like her "deal and heal" with such an unforeseen moment in their lives.

"We had to end up taking him into the hospital, but he never came home... Today is Father's Day. So I get to honor him in this way," Green-Johnson told Xinhua.

"As we open up the world, it's almost as if we have forgotten that millions of people are no longer here, and it's not. I don't see how we can continue to move forward without really acknowledging that loss. There was a huge loss for me," she said.

© Provided by Xinhua

African Americans were hit hard by the pandemic with higher hospitalization and mortality rates.

"We didn't have a solid infrastructure in a lot of our communities. So when the pandemic hit, it further exposed that lack of infrastructure in our neighborhoods," said Green-Johnson.

Sufficient funds should be guaranteed to be distributed to communities of color across the country and people need to have access to health care, she noted.

"We are no longer waiting. We are making sure that we are vocal, we are in office, we are elected, (and that) we are in a space where we are practicing every day our liberation," said Green-Johnson, adding that the quilt project was launched in April and around 40 people have participated in the project.

© Provided by Xinhua

"It's been a beautiful response to it. I think people were looking for a way to express their grief in a communal way," she said, adding that reflecting on all of the loss and doing that with the community is a really powerful experience for many people.

Green-Johnson also mentioned that the quilts on display will be exhibited in more cities.

In 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the nation, though the day had long been celebrated in a number of states.

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