Durham activist continues to memorialize homicide victims

Durham activist continues to memorialize homicide victims

DURHAM, N.C. — Community members are calling on Durham’s leaders to address the recent spike in crime.

Sidney Brodie, a Durham native, is very familiar with the problem because he has spent more than 20 years working on a project to raise awareness about it.


What You Need To Know

Community members are calling on city leaders to address a recent spike in crime in Durham

Sidney Brodie has been trying to raise awareness about the problem for 25 years

Brodie memorializes Durham homicide victims by adding their names to the quilt

Brodie hopes to create a space where the quilt can be permanently displayed


Brodie is a self-described artist and community activist. His longest running project is a quilt, and he’s been working on it for 25 years. It’s known as the Durham Homicide Memorial Quilt, and it memorializes 903 homicide victims who have been killed in Durham since 1994.

“I can’t believe I’m still doing it, or that it’s still necessary to do it,” Brodie said. “So you can’t help but wonder sometimes, is it futile?”

Most of the squares feature someone’s name and the day they were killed in Durham.

“I will put a flower there just to show that this is an actual victim. We just don’t have a name yet,” Brodie said.

On Wednesday, he was adding the black border to the bottom of the almost 80-foot long quilt.

“You like to think that this a permanent border, but the world we live in, it’s a temporary border,” Brodie said.

All too often, he finds himself removing the border and adding more squares.

“Leaving it open to me, it’s like we’re giving in. Closing it, I think it gives hope. It gives hope. It leaves room for hope,” Brodie said.

Brodie knows he can’t continue doing this forever, and that a quilt won’t stop homicides from happening. But maybe it can change what people think of when they think of Durham’s future.

“I don’t want this to define our city, because there are a lot of great things going on in Durham, but on the other hand, it’s because of the great things that I feel like that it’s worth the fight,” Brodie said. “It’s easy to place blame, but we all have a hand in making things better here. It’s going to take unity. It’s going to take all of us working together.”

Brodie takes the quilt to vigils and other events but says he wants to find a permanent home for the quilt. So he’s planning to open a museum and community resource center, in about two years, where the quilt can be displayed.

To learn more about the quilt and how to donate to the cause, visit Brodie’s website.

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