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Speaking Quilts at the Kendeda Fund Retreat

The Fight For Justice Renewed, 72x75 inch Kendeda Fund memory quilt by O. V. Brantley, 2022. Machine quilted by Maxine Moore.

In November I was invited to participate in a retreat program sponsored by the Kendeda Fund. The participants at the retreat were thought leaders who lead nonprofits in the Atlanta area. It was an awesome experience for me. I hope it was also amazing for the participants.

ME! Speaking quilts.🗣

As with all of my quilt presentations, my presentation was somewhat autobiographical. I shared my story of growing up in the segregated south, making it to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and Vanderbilt Law School and finally enjoying a wonderful legal career in public service, serving as the Chief Legal Officer for both Fulton County and DeKalb County, two of the largest counties in Georgia.

A beautiful place to renew, reflect and reimagine.

During my presentation, I stressend the importance of work life balance, and I used my joy of quilting to illustrate the point. Then I led the participants through the hands on exercise of signing a quilt block. The organizers of the retreat (chrysalis Lab) chose the words “justice” and “liberation” to inspire the messages ion the quilt blocks. As the participants were gathering their thoughts, I shared some of my heirloom memory quilts so that they would understand how their one block would be a small part of a bigger, beautiful whole.

Fulton County Attorneys, 78x80 inch memory quilt by O.V. Brantley, 2001.

Then the fun part begins for me — creating a quilt that captures the purpose and essence of the retreat program. Before I arrived at the Kendeda Fund retreat location, I thought I would be making a butterfly quilt because I had been told that the purpose of the retreat was for the attendees to renew, reflect and reimagine their work. However, after spending time with the group and absorbing their spirits, I threw out the butterflies and focused on coming up with a quilt that would be strong but happy. I knew I had spent time with people who performed incredibly hard work with many disappointments, but they believed in their mission and found happiness in working toward their goals, no matter how incrementally.

The signature blocks on my design wall

So The Fight For Justice Renewed was born. I love the way it turned out. The red makes it a strong quilt, but the yellow weaved throughout conveys a sense of happiness. I love words in my quilts, so of course I included words that would inspire.

Word detail in “The Fight For Justice Renewed”.

There was no way I would do this quilt without including a prominent place for the Kendeda Fund. Over the years the Kendeda Fund has given away millions of dollars to encourage, inspire and support those who are determined to make the world a better place. I was honored and humbled to be asked to capture their work in a quilt.

The Kendeda Fund block

P.S. Thank you to my friends at the Chrysalis Lab who created and produced the retreat and included me.🙏🏾

Still speaking quilts.🗣

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