A group of quilters known as the “East L.A. Stitchers,” founded by former Los Angeles County Board Supervisor Gloria Molina, is on a mission to complete all the unfinished quilts that the trailblazing politician has been too ill to finish herself.
“Most of her quilts are very colorful,” Bertha Molina Mejia, Molina’s sister, told KTLA. “She just loved doing different colors.”
Molina’s terminal cancer has kept her out of the public and unable to quilt, but on Thursday, her quilting group gathered to start the work of finishing more than 100 of her quilts.
Mejia spoke with KTLA about the challenges of dealing with her sister’s diagnosis.
“We were heartbroken to hear that news, and her being so strong about it. It was very hard on us,” Mejia said.
Molina knitted her own path as a champion for women and Latinos. She broke many barriers being the first Chicana elected to the California Legislature, L.A. City Council and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.
“I asked her once, ‘Gloria, what did it feel like, the board of supervisors, all those men and you at 4 (foot) 11 (inches), walking in there?’ and she said, ‘It was a little nerve-racking, but I found my way,’” Mejia said.
The board of supervisors is now represented by all women. As a new generation of leadership emerges, many look up to Molina.
“I think her proudest achievement is seeing all these women that are now in politics and that maybe she had a little bit to do with that,” Mejia said.
The pride in her community was reflected in her quilting work, a piece of her legacy that her sisterhood of quilters hopes to uphold.
“She always wanted to bring other people up with her and spread any leadership that she could,” Mejia said.
As for the East L.A. Stitchers, which Molina helped create more than 10 years ago, the group started with just seven members and now has more than 60 from across the country.
The quilts that the group is working to complete will be showcased at a special tribute on April 16.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story gave the incorrect spelling of Molina’s sister’s last name. The post has been updated.