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lt=”AIDS Memorial Quilt” width=”170″ height=”170″ />With the 2012 International AIDS Conference less than two weeks away, we want to share one of the many historic aspects of this year’s conference in Washington D.C.–the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
AIDS 2012 will mark the first time since 1996 that the entire
AIDS Memorial Quilt will be displayed in one place. The AIDS Quilt is comprised of over 47,000 hand sewn panels representing over 94,000 names. The Quilt covers an area of 50 square miles and weighs over 54 tons. It would take you 33 days to view the entire Quilt if you spent one minute looking at each panel. The amazing size of the Quilt means that it is no longer possible to show the world’s largest community art project in one location.
The history of the Quilt is as rich and vibrant as the people whose memory it preserves. In 1985, as the gay rights activist Cleve Jones was organizing the annual candlelight march remembering Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone, both of whom were assassinated in 1978, he was told that over 1,000 San Francisco residents had died of AIDS. Shocked by this number, he asked his fellow marchers to write the names of friends and loved ones lost to AIDS on placards. At the end of the march, Jones and others taped the placards to the walls of the San Francisco Federal Building. Observers were quick to point out that the taped placards looked like a Quilt and that it was a striking way to commemorate those who had passed away.
In 1987, Jones teamed up with Mike Smith to form the NAMES Project Foundation. The influx of panels was enthusiastic and immediate. The Quilt was first displayed on the National Mall on October 11, 1987. The Quilt would return to Washington D.C. four more times in 1988, 1989, 1992 and 1996, growing in size and representing a larger portion of the globe with each passing
year. In 1989 the Quilt was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. That same year the documentary “Common Threads: Stories From The Quilt” won the Academy Award as the best feature-length documentary. Congress made the AIDS Quilt a national treasure in 2005.
The Quilt arrived on the National Mall on June 23, as part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival where 800 different panels will be displayed for the duration of the ten day festival. For AIDS 2012, July 21-25, all 47,000 panels will be on display at over 50 venues on and around the National Mall.
As part of our outreach efforts celebrating July as National HIV Awareness Month, ASG is hosting a viewing of “Common Threads“ this Friday, July 13, at 6:30pm. The viewing is free and open to the public. Anyone interested in carpooling with ASG to see the quilt in person should contact our Membership Coordinator, Rob Rodney, at Rob.Rodney@asgva.org or 434.981.2134 for details.
–Post by Solomon Banjo