ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Last summer, Black Lives Matter demonstrations called millions to the streets not just across the country, but around the world demanding equal justice. That movement led St. Petersburg artist NaKina Cromartie to create something memorable.

“Believing that we all can contribute to this moment," Cromartie said, “of bringing some level of encouragement or light or empowerment to just help one another.” Tapping into her background in fashion and textiles, Cromartie came up with an idea to help her community expressed the importance of coming together, one square cloth at a time."

“At the onset we took some blank muslin, which is fabric," she added. “We ended up cutting those into (6 inches by 6 inches).  stuffing them into envelopes. We had cards that indicated with those first five steps are to write out your empowerment and told them to stick it in the envelope and drop it off at the various drop off locations.” She got back more than half of the 500 squares that she sent out and with every stitch, she created an 11- by 10-foot quilt. A tribute to self empowerment.  

“I just felt this level of essence,” Cromartie said, “I could feel everyone’s sentiments. Say their names, You matter. Many of them were some scriptures biblically like Phillipians 4:13, reminding us I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  It’s a labor of love she says that strengthened her and she hopes will stand as a lasting source of strength to others.  

“When you think of quilts you naturally think of warmth," she said,  “A level of security. And so now to be able to take something that would be used for another purpose and actually utilize it to share more of a social justice out reach or empowerment a level of advocacy. I think that’s what I want people to walk away with. is that we all have something to contribute.”