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ACTION ON AIDS

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THE AIDS MEMORIAL QUILT

AIDS Memorial Quilt Panel
Activist Cleve Jones began The AIDS Memorial Quilt in 1987. 1,920 panels were first displayed in the nation's capital during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987, to highlight the scale of the epidemic. By 2007, the Quilt included more than 46,000 panels representing over 80,000 people and it continues to grow.
Courtesy The NAMES Project Foundation
First panel of the AIDS Memorial Quilt First panel of The AIDS Memorial Quilt, 1987
Courtesy The NAMES Project Foundation
In 1987 gay rights activist Cleve Jones made the first panel for The AIDS Memorial Quilt, in memory of his friend Marvin Feldman. He came up with the idea after participants in the annual candlelight vigil to remember assassinated gay politician Harvey Milk placed placards with the names of friends and partners who had died from AIDS on the steps of San Francisco's city hall.
Vigil participants hang signs with names on building wall Candlelight vigil for Harvey Milk, assassinated in 1978, San Francisco, 1987
Courtesy The NAMES Project Foundation
Photo of Cleve Jones Cleve Jones, founder of The AIDS Memorial Quilt, 1980s
Courtesy The NAMES Project Foundation
Inviting others who had lost loved ones to join the project, Jones decided to bring the quilt to the National Mall to draw attention to the ongoing crisis and the inadequacy of the government's response. In 1987, during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights 1,920 panels were first displayed in the nation's capital, to highlight the scale of the epidemic. By 2007, the Quilt included more than 46,000 panels representing over eighty thousand people and it continues to grow. Panels on display have been visited by more than fifteen million people from around the world.