The Future of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and Archive Collection


please welcome members of the Gay Men’s
Chorus of Washington DC performing seasons of love please welcome librarian of Congress dr.
Carla Hayden good morning and welcome to the Library of Congress on this very
special day it is an honor to welcome Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi along
with several members of Congress including members from the congressional
hiv-aids caucus and another warm welcome to our partners today from the names
project foundation led by president and CEO Julie road the team from the
National AIDS Memorial led by executive director John Cunningham and the
founders of the quilt clean Jones Mike Smith and Gert McMullen also thank you
to the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC for that wonderful performance of
seasons of love from the musical grant please one more that song has a strong connection to the
Library of Congress the papers of Jonathan Larson the writer and composer
of rent are housed here in the library’s music division and in the collection you
will see a sheet of paper with Larson’s handwritten notes in long math
calculating the 525,600 minutes that you hear in those lyrics the song though
seasons of love reminds us of the preciousness of life and living it with
love and that’s why we’re here today in Washington to remember the tens of
thousands of people we love who died from AIDS and the profound impact that
they’ve had on our lives tragically since 1981 close to six
hundred and thirty six thousand people have died from AIDS in the United States
alone one of them was my first cousin from Chicago he was a vibrant young man
who loved life and enjoyed every minute of meeting people and performing as an
actor we were so proud of him and he died in the mid-80s during the
early years of the pandemic another was a student of mine in library school at
the University of Pittsburgh he was working at the Smithsonian before I
recruited him to work at the Chicago Public Library he was young and handsome
and debonair and said Carla dr. Hayden don’t dress like a librarian and he created some of the most
beautiful exhibitions for the library and he died and I spoke at his memorial
in 1993 and sadly there are too many similar stories like these from men and
women from San Francisco to New York City from Seattle to Miami and for more
than 30 years the AIDS Memorial Quilt has become a beautiful symbol of hope
healing and remembrance the patchwork of photographs clothing
and flowers will forever honor the thousands of lives loss and each stitch
of every fabric sewn represents the heartbreak and social conscious of the
impact of the AIDS epidemic on this nation and serves as a reminder for the
rest of us of our responsibility to continue to tell their personal stories
and that’s why today we are honored to announce that the National AIDS Memorial
will become the new caretaker of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in the names project
programs and as part of the transition the Library of Congress’s American
Folklife Center will become the new home for the National AIDS Memorial Quilt
archive collection this collection of more than 200,000
items includes personal handwritten letters photographs biographical records
tributes epitaphs news clippings and even a sewing machine that stitched
together a panel of the quilt these archives will be preserved here at the
Library of Congress and made available to the public and researchers for
generations to come but most importantly it will help humanize and bring to mind
the scale of the AIDS pandemic through the words and voices from the people
we’ve lost and the families they’ve touched this includes our colleagues
here at the Library of Congress who passed away from AIDS and who are
remembered on the library panel of the quilt in the archives received a story
is told of a small group of library staff members who got together in 1992
to stitch together this panel they learned how to sew and use a sewing
machine during their lunch breaks and staying late after work and 27 years
later eight of them still work here at the library and are here this morning
and invite them to stand or raise your hands and I know that the people
immortalized and that is just one of the thousands of
stores that are part of these archives the story of 36 year old Tom Moscato of
Chicago whose home on orchid Street was called by friends as quote the Haven for
every lost artistic soul that passed through Chicago or the story of 33
year-old actor Marvin Feldman who was the inspiration
for the very first quilt that is on display here today his family is here
and his friends please give them any there’s a tribute by students of West
era Dell middle school in Statesville North Carolina Carolina remembering Ryan
White who touched and helped educate the students in the world about the disease
and there’s a beautiful letter from the sister of Ernesto Lopez Manila jr. of
Huntsville Alabama thinking quilt organizes for helping her heal and the
moving letter from the mother of Ted and Tom boat who lost both of her son’s to
AIDS and in the letter she writes on January 5th 1992 I was in Florida when
his father called me from Ted’s bedside much later they told me that when he
heard my voice a team tear came from one of his eyes and within the hour he was
gone this is just a very small fraction of the stories that need to be told and
remembered and the Library of Congress is proud and honored to serve as the
home of the National AIDS Memorial Quilt archive to preserve its legacy and give
the memorial a home these powerful archives will continue to be a source of
healing comfort and awareness in memory of those we have lost
as Jonathan Lawson wrote in rent it’s time now to sing out though the story
never ends let’s celebrate remember a year and a life of friends
remember the love and we promise we will always remember the Library of Congress
panel of the quilt and items from the AIDS Memorial Quilt archives will be on
display here in the Great Hall until world’s AIDS Day on December 1st
and we hope you will come back and visit now I’d like to welcome the President
and CEO of the names project foundation is julie road Thank You dr. Hayden madam Speaker
congressman Lewis congresswoman Lee members of the HIV and AIDS caucus my
colleagues my friends and other dignitaries that are here today I am
thrilled to be here with you and tremendously honored to be able to share
our stories with you I’d like to start with a little personal story begins in
1982 when I graduated from college and began my career as a professional stage
manager in the theatrical arena and I didn’t know at 22 that what I had
learned in theater which was you work together you rehearse together you spend
your time together doing eight shows a week you dined together you go out after
shows and yes you have cocktails together and you become a family in that
process and what happened for me and so many of my friends was that we were
faced with an epidemic that was tearing our community apart and it was a crisis
that we didn’t know if we were going to survive instead of going out for drinks
after a show we were splitting up into care teams and I remember calling my
mother and saying you know mom I need to tell you what’s going on and first she
was concerned for me and concerned that I was going to get sick because it was
early and then she was concerned for my friends and she said you know dear just
the simple act of being human means that somewhere in your life you’re going to
be faced with a crisis you’re going to be faced with what you think is the
insurmountable the unsurvivable and the question is not whether you will get
through it but how you will get through it
and I’m honored to be able to stand in front of this quilt as one of the finest
examples of how we began to get through this and work through this because you
know 32 years ago this quilt was founded by a group of strangers they gathered to
remember the names and the lives of the loved ones that they feared history
would forget and with that seemingly simple act of love and defiance the
first panels of the quilt were made and the names project was founded
that same year those first memorials traveled here along with 19 others 1,900
others where they made their first appearance on the National Mall and in
doing that they made it impossible for the world to dismiss or deny aids and
they made it impossible for us to look at this without looking at the human
toll in the years since that first display this quilt has grown to over
50,000 panels and the names contained in its stitches to over a hundred and five
thousand this morning we’ve come to our nation’s capitol once again to announce
our plans for the future of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in the names project and
we are here with some of the most powerful ambassadors and envoys to the
cause of human rights that we’ve ever known and they are the panels of the
AIDS Memorial Quilt they are our guides they are our navigators they are our
teachers they stand ready to remind us all that we are connected one to another
and if we’re connected one to another than indeed we must be responsible one
for another they call on us embedded in their stitches is a call to
us to pinpoint what really matters they’re here for me they’re here for you
and they’re here for people from all walks of life
all around the globe as dr. Hayden stated and on behalf of the name’s
project board of directors our staff our friends and our family I am thrilled to
formally announce that in 2020 the National AIDS Memorial will become the
caretaker of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and the names project programs the quilt
will return to San Francisco to where it began more than three decades ago and as
you know part of this transition we linked DC and San Francisco and Atlanta
but we linked DC in San Francisco and telling our stories for generations to
come this is the culmination of what I would
call chapter two in the story of the name’s project it is the realization of
a long-held plan to secure new institutional partners in order to
secure the legacy of this AIDS Memorial Quilt and ensure that it will be here to
teach for generations to come this second chapter began 18 years ago with a
move to Atlanta Georgia congressman Lewis we are honored to have spent 18
years in your district your leadership in the cause of human rights and social
justice your service to our city and to our nature nation is unparalleled you
are a hero to us all and you are a reminder of what’s possible you’re a
reminder of what good trouble looks like and you challenge us thank you
you challenge us every day to participate to act in the face of
injustice thank you so much thank you I’m proud to live in the fifth district
just thought I’d share that before we turn to our next chapter I would love to
thank some of the people who over this last 18 years has made this transition
possible have made this transition possible the first ones Brian Holman
Brian you transformed our display program you took it from 50 displays a
year to a peak of 450 you made sure that the quilt was on hand wherever and
whenever it was needed you restored and you grew our relationships across this
nation and because of you and because of of course our warehouse team and other
staff members today there are over two hundred block two hundred displays that
are about to take place for World AIDS Day in cities in towns in small places
in libraries in all sorts of institutions and the truth is that when
those panels returned their return address John by the way they’re coming
to your house okay and we’re thrilled about that thank you
Brian shada harris and ada Renta’s thank you
for spending hours and hours and hours in church basements an HBCU student
centers in community centers and Clinics building the do Lord remember me and
call my name workshop programs your work fulfills a promise that we made in 2001
a promise to be intentional in our efforts to create a safe loving space
and give power to those in need to give a voice to the AIDS crisis that was
finding its epicenter in the african-american and Latino communities
you helped establish an authentic response created specifically for people
of color and like every single story found on this quilt these newest stories
have open hearts and open minds in profound ways board member and colleague
Billy planar thank you for making names project an important stop on your
organization’s civil rights journeys more than 30,000 middle and high school
students rabbis Jewish educators and others spent time in our midst in
Atlanta learning about the epidemic and the contemporary social justice issues
that continue to fuel this epidemic I’m grateful for the time spent with each
and every one of these people in a conversation that speaks to there is no
other only another herb McMullen you remain for so many you are the woman whose soul is stitched
into the very fabric of this handmade treasure thank you for never leaving the
quilt side hmm and Roddy Williams you have been the glue the glue that has
helped me make and keep the doors open your years of service to donors and
display hosts the staff the board the volunteers and your devotion to the
quilt is the very definition of servant leadership words will never convey my gratitude
Harriet Sanford Amy stone and Tracy Newton as board chairs you challenged me
and you reminded me of my mother’s words you challenged me to focus on not
whether we could get through the difficult times but how we would get
through them thank you for helping me stay the course I’d also like to thank our founders
Cleve Jones Mike Smith & gert McMullen you wrote chapter 1 in our history you
armed us with a beautiful idea and you allowed us to find a way to express our
pain our anger and our love in three foot by six foot pieces of cloth and
then you fought to bring the quilt here to our nation’s capital and you made
aids real and immediate for us all and now it’s time and now it’s time to pass the torch you
know I remember my first call is about six years ago I think – Betsy Peterson
and Nicole Saylor at the Library of Congress
Betsy is the director of the American Folklife Center and Nicole Nikki is the
head of the archive I was calling them for advice I wanted to know about how we
could begin to frame the dialogue around who would be the next home for these
collections and how would they be managed and how would they be organized
and Betsy chimed in and she said well you know that’s what we do I’m telling
you I had this moment where I might have squealed and cried at the same time
because I thought this is it you know in a time when we were
originally not welcome in our nation’s capitol where many of the people who are
in this room today fought to have us represented here isn’t it lovely that we
are coming full circle and we are being invited into our nation’s library and
into our nation’s capitol with vigor as it were thank finally absolutely none of this could
have happened or would have happened without the National AIDS Memorial
stepping up you stepped up you stepped in and you made a commitment to care for
the name’s project take care for the quilt and to care for it in perpetuity
because of you the names projects taking a giant leap forward and I know it’s
ironic that we’re going back to San Francisco in our leap forward but I
think it’s more than appropriate for the quote to reside in the home that gave
birth to it and in the city that gave life to the AIDS movement the names
project and the National AIDS Memorial we share a rich history it is linked
through time geography and mission we share a vision for the future and that
vision includes the National AIDS Memorial leading an effort to create a
center that is dedicated to telling the story of life in the age of AIDS for
generations to come I am now proud to introduce the man who
will lead this effort he is indeed one of the finest humans I have ever
encountered I’ve had the privilege now to work with John for clearly close to a
year and I am proud to call him colleague and honored to call him friend
ladies and gentlemen please join me in welcoming the executive director of the
National AIDS Memorial mr. John Cunningham age I would like to open my remarks
today by remembering Jack Porter who left the Grove family last Friday
evening Jack was a testament to the true
goodness of humanity Jack was the partner of Stephen Marcus who was the
visionary of the AIDS Memorial Grove and who died of AIDS prior to the breaking
of ground for 30 years Jack could be found in the memorial sweeping in the
circle of friends sharing stories with those who visit the memorial from around
the world Jack always ensured that we stayed true to our mission of healing
hope and remembrance I visited Jack two weeks ago while he was in a skilled
nursing facility and he was so pleased about what is taking place today may we
all remember the memory of Jack Porter a life well-lived and may we strive to
live as well as he did my name is John Cunningham and I’m the
executive director of the National AIDS Memorial and I am a man living with AIDS
I would like to invite anyone here in the room with us today who is living
with HIV or AIDS to stand and be acknowledged Julie thank you for your kind words I
would like to thank our dignitaries that are here with us today Speaker Pelosi
congressman Lewis congresswoman Lee dr. Hayden thank you all for your leadership
for your steadfast commitment and for your unwavering to support for those in
need and fighting against AIDS I would like to express my deep and sincere
appreciation to Julie and her dedicated team from the names Project
Brian rowdy Gert Tracey thank you over the last nine months I have had the
opportunity to develop a partnership with you Julie and today that
partnership to help make this a reality I would also like to thank the board of
directors of the National AIDS Memorial as well as my amazing team consisting of
Steve zaga sir Matt Kennedy Kevin her glutes Peter Owen Smith key Nagata and
Deb Denison without your dedication and commitment to our cause in our effort
nothing would come to be today as it has I also want to thank my dear and loving
husband Joel for his support because this job can take a lot of time and I
couldn’t do it without you – Cleve Jones and Mike Smith thank you for your vision
of the quilt and for helping to establish the first AIDS Memorial Kurt
McMullen what can I say you’ve been with a quilt since the very beginning and you
moved from it to Atlanta with your boys and I am pleased to announce that Gert
will be returning to the San Francisco Bay Area with her boys and our beloved
quilt I want to express my deep and sincere
appreciation to our long-standing partners at Gilead Sciences who stepped
up when asked to help to not only return the quilt to the San Francisco Bay Area
but also to help to secure its future with us today his former Director of
AIDS policy for the White House under President Obama and the current
executive director of community engagement for Gilead Sciences Douglas
Brooks I also want to express my deep and
sincere gratitude to Korra observe ice president of public affairs for Gilead
who has had faith in our ability to accomplish this monumental task we
gather in this majestic Hall which has seen so much history today we mark
another historic event not only in the story of aides but also in the story of
social justice for the story of aides is a story of social justice or perhaps a
story of injustice we are here in the Library of Congress as the American
Folklife Center will ensure the vast collection of archives which tells the
story of not just those lives memorialized on the quilt but also the
broader story of aides will be available for the public this collection will now
be accessible to the public through this the world’s largest library
we are so pleased that this partnership will tell the story in perpetuity 32
years ago I’m sorry 30 years ago just a short
distance from where the early panels of the quilt were arriving from around the
nation and were beefed up being sewn together a small group of San
Franciscans gathered in a neglected forgotten and abandoned doll within
Golden Gate Park as with those who were sewing together
the panels these individuals were devastated by the magnitude of loss but
together found solace they sought to create a space in nature where a
community could gather to heal and find hope for a brighter future
today this space is our nation’s only federally designated memorial to AIDS
thank you speaker Pelosi for your steadfast support and vision of making
this happen through the National AIDS Memorial Act
of 1996 thank you today the National AIDS Memorial is
squarely positioned and prepared to accept the awesome responsibility of
stewardship of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and as we write this next chapter we are
prepared to work together with the Library of Congress the founders and
leaders of the names project foundation and all of you to ensure the next
chapter is vibrant and tells the story I see it as two siblings reared in the
early days together instilled with the same values and priorities who went
their own ways and barking upon similar work and today they’re reunited together
to ensure all lives lost are never forgotten and that the story will
forever to be told the quilts new home will reside in California district 13
congresswoman Barbara leaves district the National AIDS Memorial is committed
to building upon the rich history and to honor its programs and its traditions we
will continue to work together to ensure our shared mission and values will be
the foundation from which the future is built as our nation’s only federally
designated memorial to AIDS we are the keeper of our nation’s story
for a memorial is about memory and memory is about never forgetting both
the quilt and the National AIDS Memorial have since their founding than truth
tellers as we look to the future we must tell the entire story and never forget
that there in the early years of the epidemic it was a dark story one of hate
prejudice neglect discrimination rooted in ignorance and other ism this dark
period empowered and emboldened a community to act generating love
passion action care and hope this is our story as the National AIDS Memorial
looks to the horizon we envision a national center for social conscience
and the coop will play a central role in telling the story and in so doing it
will inspire the next generation of leaders for social change justice and
human rights I would like to leave you with a quote
with a quote from film historian an AIDS activist Peter Russo someday the AIDS
crisis will be over remember that and when that day comes when that day has
come and gone there will be people alive on this earth gay people straight people
men and women black and white who will hear the story that once there was a
terrible disease in this country and all over the world and that brave people
great that a brave group of people stood up fought and in some cases gave their
lives so that other people might live free in the future thank you it is now my distinct honor to
introduce congresswoman barbara Lee congresswoman Lee has stood shoulder to
shoulder in the fight against AIDS with all of us she is the founder and
co-chair of the HIV AIDS caucus please help welcome my congresswoman barbara
Lee good morning first of all thank you so
much for being here today and let me just say what an inspirational and
resounding performance by the Gay Men’s Chorus thank you and also let me just
recognize the founders of the quilt Cleve Jones Mike cement Gert McMullen
and honored Tina Crosby and the Feldman family and all the family and friends
who have lost loved ones and I wanted also to our phenomenal Library of
Congress where dr. Carla Hayden I just want to thank you so much for your
leadership and for really hosting us this morning for this really beautiful
ceremony and of course to Julia and to John thank you so much thank you for
your leadership thank you for really making sure that this beautiful event is
put together and really highlighting the memories of those we lost but also where
we need to go as we move forward thank you so much and thank all of you let me
take a moment to recognize our speaker nancy pelosi and congressman Lewis for
their tireless and extraordinary efforts and work to end the epidemic also was it
23 years ago and speaker Pelosi when President Clinton actually signed your
legislation designating the AIDS were more at 23 years ago the église Memorial
or the Grove and elevating this place really not only of grieving but of
healing elevating this to a national level and of course she continues to be
extraordinary and steadfast in her leadership to end AIDS and has never
lost sight never lost sight from day one of this very noble effort and so yes I’m
proud to stand here with you today as co-chair of the Congressional hiv/aids
caucus and a proud representative of California’s 13th congressional district
we stand here in remembrance of the lives of the people who died from AIDS
so they will never be forgotten their
stories will be known by future generations thanks to you
also today’s historic announcement honors the more than 30 years of
stewardship of the quilt by the names project and celebrates the awareness and
it really has helped raise the awareness of the HIV and AIDS epidemic I know the
presence of the archives of the Library of Congress here and the permanent home
for the quilt will forever honor the history and make the story of life in
the height of the AIDS epidemic accessible for generations to come
and so yes not only it’s the quilt coming home to the Bay Area but also the
International AIDS Society 2020 conferences returning to Oakland and to
San Francisco yes thank you and I could not be more pleased and proud or for the
quilt to come to my district in the city of San Leandro
and I hope that at the conference attendees from all over the world will
be able to visit the quilt and the National AIDS Memorial since the quilt
first started raising awareness over 30 years we have made tremendous progress
in our work to achieve an aids-free generation thanks to programs like the
Ryan White program the minority aids initiative PEPFAR the Global Fund thanks
to speaker Pelosi we have saved over tens of millions of lives and helped
millions of children be born hiv-free almost every day now there are new
scientific breakthroughs in treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS but we
still have much work to do my district in Alameda County the 57 jurisdictions
among Alameda County is one still disproportionately are impacted by the
HIV epidemic here in the United States 14% of the 1.1
million positive Americans are unaware of their status and as we know
vulnerable communities black latin x and LGBTQI communities are
disproportionately impacted we’ve made great strides thanks to you over the
past four decades but still have a lot of work to do to end stigma and
discrimination so make no mistake this is still a crisis and we will fight to
end the epidemic many of my friends lives were taken away much too young and
too soon Frank AIDS my first year as a member of
Congress in 1998 I worked with my colleagues in Alameda County to declare
a state of emergency in my district regarding the epidemic so the National
AIDS Memorial and quilt you made such a tremendous impact and telling the story
of the AIDS crisis and we will never forget the lives that were lost and what
you have done we owe it to everyone whose name is on it to keep fighting
until the number of new HIV AIDS cases drops to zero zero so thank you all for your incredible
work and activism this truly is one of the most important issues facing our
nation and our planet and I am proud to stand alongside you until we have a
world free of HIV and AIDS thank you again in let me take this mullet of privilege and
honor to introduce our great warrior for human and civil rights our colleague our
friend someone who has led on so many fronts so that there can be true
equality and justice for all Congressman John Lewis from the great Thank You Barbara Lee I thought you were
my friend and you just forgetting better watch out you’re a good-looking group you’re
beautiful handsome and smart you’re never giving up
you’re never giving in you got kept a faith hill kept your eyes on the prize
nine it’s not the time to give up but to stand up to speak up and speak out and
get in the way getting good trouble necessary trouble over the course of his life dr. Martin
Luther King jr. often spoke of the Beloved Community a society at peace
with itself and its neighbors that recognized the dignity and the worth of
every human being from the earliest days of the AIDS crisis that was very similar
communities this community provide for each other for society deny them
Brotherhood sisterhood human decency and unconditional love unconditional love then the height of the civil rights
movement we spoke love love love your brother love your sister love your
mother your father love your friends we can see love and each other just quilt
is the family home for the countless men and women who lost their lives into
those who love and remember them so let us keep it for all time and never give
up on inner sole for we all a human and we
must respect the dignity and the worth of all human come on Akane on one
occasion dr. King said to some of us just love everybody love those who fail
to love you just love just love a little hell out of everybody you know thank you
you and Lana girl thank you thank you for being you it is my honor to be with you to be here
in this beautiful wonderful place I remember when I was growing up I was
denied a library card suffer because of the color of my skin but now I could
come to this beautiful wonderful place and be inspired and when people come and
visit the quote it would be inspired not to give up not to give in but to learn
to stand up to speak up and speak out and so I said from time to time when you
see something that it’s not right not fair not just something do something you
cannot afford to be quiet I go home for a while but my responsibility is to
present a friend an unbelievable committed dedicated woman who is so
human who is so smart and who worked so hard she is my friend
she is my sister and I want to thank the Speaker of the House of Representative
Nancy Pelosi for being here and for all the whole work
thank you John Louis thank you John Lewis for being here
being there for all of us over and over again and may I say that as John pays
tribute to the name’s project and the quilt and extending hospitality to the
quilt in Atlanta for all of this time let me say that what you know but I will
reinforce that John Lewis was there when we introduced the Equality Act last year
it was a bill to open up the Civil Rights Act to include LGBTQ community
and ending discrimination in the road John is very proprietary about the Civil
Rights Act very careful about how we amend it we don’t accept with John’s
blessing standing right there we made that announcement the Equality Act thank
you John Louis for this for your kind words for being you and for being here
thank you John here’s a master of words but he always acts upon those words and
his beliefs as he expresses them wasn’t honored for all of us that he was here
when I was looking forward to this day I was new it was going to be an emotional
day I didn’t realize though John that we
would have lost Jack Porter just a few days before this momentous occasion he’s
a dear dear friend I loved him dearly he made me think I was his best friend
did he make you think that too he had a way about him I don’t think to ever have
a birthday a holiday of any kind or any anything that I’ve done that I would not
hear from him or see him for 30 years have been going for a long time going to
the Grove and he was always always there he was just remarkable and we’ll miss
him we’ll miss him terribly so that made it more emotional than to be introduced
by John Lewis oh my too much in any of that Julie Road thank you thank you
mother thank you for your leadership of the names project on Cunningham getting
ready to Barbara I know it’s in San Leandro but getting ready to welcome it
in a few years back to San Francisco but the Bay Area
feels very very welcoming to the name the quilts have coming home
Steve cardones Cleve Jones I’m going to talk about in a moment but Cleve and
Mike Smithson and Gert thank you thank you thank you for being so masterful in
making all of this happen over time dr. Hayden spoke so beautifully about having
that Library of Congress receive not the quilt but all of the
velia associated with it and in doing so it raises the profile of it the
opportunity for others to see it the visibility of it but in return all of
this information about the names project brings lustre to the Library of Congress
as well this is a beautiful gift to the nation the Gay Men’s Chorus I love
numbers I love to count boats and other things days whatever thank you so much
for making this such a a joyous occasion it’s bringing from our grief but giving
us hope thank you so much you made it lovely for all of us here we are let me
just tell you this purse this is in some ways self-deprecating in other ways
self-serving so I put up those who honor so a long time ago 1987 Cleve Jones
comes to my home and says it tells me in advance what it’s going to be about but
it comes there and want to take some pictures to announce an new project the
names project now I am a mother of five children and I’m just newly elected a
member of Congress and I say to cleave cleave a quilt
nobody sews I I’m not rightfully I said I have five
children I went to school on a convent from the earliest days I know how to sew
I know her darn I know the nature under her clothes yeah in order Tate I know it
all I don’t so I have a sewing machine I don’t sell so if I don’t sell with
mother of five a sewing machine and all of that knowledge nobody says that was
my wisdom at the time I guess it’s a mother of five you know on time to sell
but nonetheless so I said cleave I just don’t know about this project can’t we
do something else like I don’t know what and you said no this is it we’re
sticking with this and of course look at this
so couple years later Cleve says we want to bring the quilt now it’s almost 2000
panels to Washington DC now I’m in Washington and it wasn’t that long
later matter of months it seems to me so it comes to me and he says we want to
display it on the mall we’re getting some resistance so I said well that
can’t be right so I go to see a young National Park
Service they said oh yeah we can give you a corner a little space on the
corner of someplace so you’re not hearing this correctly that’s not the
ask we have a big ask and I earlier then maybe I should have spoke for all of the
Democrats in Congress to say that this was our request no was not a possibility
power we’re going to get from here to there one thing in another much
resistance as I said this is self promoting so so they said well we can’t
do it because you’re going to kill the grass so we can handle it we’re not
gonna kill the grass so if we the way we can handle this is you’re gonna have to
get the quilt lifted up every 20 minutes will has to be lifted up every 20
minutes and I said well you understand we have volunteers from all over the
country that’s the easiest thing in the world we will lift up the quilt every 20
minutes and you can check on us after so I said but you you understand we have
all these volunteers because people in America are sewing their hearts out
they’re just sewing everybody loves just so this is to the heart of who we are
sewing sewing Flags throwing quilts and the rest don’t you understand what
sewing means to us so anyway with the promise that we would lift the quilt
every 20 minutes you remember all of us clean he was my hero I I just like every
time I say I think what a miracle he is and my canned goods so I have mine Suzie
for a key crochet flower girl at my wedding so many others but every every
quilt a story every quilt every panel from the heart it was so beautiful so
that Friday night after that week of the belt being there who is the news maker
of the week Cleve Jones and they had helicopters all over the mall showing it
was a triumph thanks to you thanks to Mike I not been every 20 minutes and it might
not have been every panel but whatever they can come see me if they have a
problem with it now in any event it is this beautiful manifestation of love
this beautiful manifestation of love so barbara lee is welcoming mr. San Leandro
Barbara has from day one she came to Congress she had a amendment on the
floor successfully on the floor right the first day it seems to me then she
got on a plane went to Durban South Africa to be part of the AIDS come she
has been relentless persistent smart and I was honored to be with her when we
announced I don’t know if that was an announcement but a tribute to the
conference coming to the Bay Area the AIDS Conference coming to the Bay Area
this is a very resilient resilient virus it keeps mutating every time we think we
have it in its grasp it does something different so we have to be resilient in
the fight as well but our spirit about it our love our memory of it all so when
we book like when we’re doing the AIDS Memorial Grove that poor so many that
that his his partner Steve market so this was again a labor of love and we’re
doing that I had some resistance from my friend colleagues and Congress saying we
shouldn’t be just having a memorial to one disease AIDS memorial growth I said
well we are no no no you have to hear the rest of it we
shouldn’t be having it but if we have it it should be in my city they’re sitting
they didn’t want it except if we had it it was going to be in their city but we
thought we were proprietary about it and so when John talks about his leadership
there and he’s been such a tremendous leader thank you John he doesn’t talk a
bit boats yeah they ran design renewal make sure community all dressed but most
a lot of time we spend weeding all right we’ve been weeding and planting and all
the rest to make it so beautiful and now they will have a physical structure to
house some of the history of it all and then eventually the names the names
project so this is this is something something really spectacular in this
fight all these years and later we’ll be reading names of some other folks that
we we have lost but in the meantime we will continue our efforts to find a cure
and achieve an aids-free generation again I think all of you I do want to
say when everyone stood up to who’s living with HIV and AIDS he didn’t stand
up because he was already standing but Dan Bernal my district represented so this is very personal with all of us
Thank You Julie thank you John Thank You Clive thank you Mike Thank You Burt
thank you all and again this Library of Congress is a better place for what is
going to be coming it’s a fabulous place Carla Hayden is wonderful she came from
Baltimore Baltimore not presentable so I take special pride in her and praise her
for the wisdom of enhancing this magnificent historic collection already
present in the Library of Congress greatly enhanced by the names project
memorabilia thank you all for what you have done if I may briefly Thank You Speaker
Pelosi Thank You congresswoman Lee may today
you being Nancy with your family with your people may energize you may it
empower you as you return to the dead is it appropriate to say ditto I’m sure as
we begin to wrap up our program today we’d like to blend a couple of our
traditions that are rooted in very same era and that is the notion of when I
pray for you I will call your name today we have a tradition that when we read
names at the quilt the first reader is always our founder Cleve Jones and
shortly you will hear from Glenn Rainey who will lead us and well who will sing
call my name and then we will begin a reading of names with our dignitaries
thank you all for being here as as Julie said Glenn will sing call my name then
Cleve will come up and he will introduce the sister of Marvin Feldman for a few
words my name picture me there like a
photograph cos wherever you’re standing I’m standing there to imagine me and I’m
right next to you when you call my think of me please for another day
every time you remember it summons me back wherever whenever you
do just a single day but a carnival was it two years a god last May
and then we got stuck on the ferris wheel what I give to real I embrace every moment I hope you do to Oh name
hold me again your memory just remember
the weekends the dancing till dawn the first morning star
we made a wish as on just come don’t let my
we fade away all the mornings together the night remember and don’t be remember hi I’m Cleve Jones and I have a couple
things I’d like to say first of all we killed every blade of grass when that
mall so oh no so thank you so much she’s known to the world now as Speaker Pelosi
where we live we call her Nancy and she’s been there from the beginning for
us she hosted the first fundraiser in her home and convinced the Park Service
we were gonna fluff the quilt for the last 13 years I’ve been continuing this
struggle for access to health care I work for UNITE HERE International Union
which is the hospitality workers union and we fight for the dignity and rights
of working people especially immigrant women who work in the hotels that you
stay in and I’m proud to be a part of that struggle and I want to acknowledge
Tim Barnes our political director who is here today I also want to introduce you
to somebody you’re going to be hearing more about Mike Gifford who runs the
aids Resource Center of Wisconsin where people with HIV like myself live longer
than anywhere else in this country they’re expanding their services and I’m
looking forward to seeing a partnership between them and the National AIDS
Memorial to send the message of the quilt because one of the single greatest
obstacles to our fight against AIDS remember remains stigma and we have to
continue to address that the stigma of homophobia and racism that have combined
together in such a horrible way I’m deeply grateful to all of you who are
here today from the chorus dr. Hayden and your staff here representative Lee
representative Lewis amazing heroes but I want to tell you about my friend
Marvin Feldman and how this quilt began this quilt came to being on November 27
1985 at our annual tribute in San Francisco to Harvey Milk and George
Moscone who we who were so important to all of us in the Bay Area they were
murdered on November 27th 1978 and every year we reenact the candlelight march
that occurred that night however in 1985 the news had just come out that we in
the bay area particularly in Oakland and San
Cisco had already lost a thousand of our friends and neighbors to this new
disease I was overwhelmed by that statistic and so many of those people
were my closest friends and neighbors it seems to me like everybody I knew was
going to die and so that night at the annual tribute I had Harvey Milk’s old
bullhorn and we had some stacks of cardboard and magic markers and we asked
everybody to write the names of some one person day knew who had been lost to
this disease at first people were reluctant and then finally they began to
print those names and we marched in silence with our candles down Market
Street to City Hall we filled Civic Center Plaza and then I had everybody
walk a couple blocks to the old federal building and we’d hidden some shrubbery
in the left as some ladders in the shrubbery outside and we climbed up with
big rolls of tape on our wrist and we covered that gray stone facade with the
names of our dead and as I looked at that I thought to myself it looks like
some kind of strange quilt and I thought of my grandma back in B Ridge Indiana
and the quilts that she had sewn one of them is on my bed tonight
it was such a powerful symbol and such a warm comforting middle America and
traditional family values sort of symbol and I said yes that’s that’s the symbol
and for a year I talked about it and everybody said it was a stupidest thing
they’d ever heard of and then I met Mike Smith who had a degree in business from
Stanford and he knew how to make this happen and we had our first volunteer
meeting we put up posters everywhere only two people showed up jack castor
and Gert McMullen and we lost Jack a long time ago but Gert is still sewing
so Gert Mike I love you both thank you I could not be happier and more grateful
for this outcome there is no scenario I can imagine other than this never having
to have happened that would bring me greater sense of peace to know that this
extraordinary work of art is going to be preserved and thanks to dr. Hayden and
her colleagues is going to be available there’s enormous lessons to be learned
from this pandemic it’s important that we not allow those lessons to be lost in
time they will be relevant unfortunately again in the future but it might be good
to look back also to 30 years ago to what happened when a bipartisan Congress
passed the Ryan White Care Act which brought millions and millions of dollars
into those communities that were hardest hit by their pandemic this summer we’ve
got the International AIDS Conference coming to Oakland in San Francisco we’ve
got the Democratic and Republican conventions we’ve got an election season
it’s a good time to remind people of the important legislation that can happen
that will do good for people who need it the most
that was sight that was introduced by Senator Ted Kennedy and it was signed by
President George HW Bush so we can get things together and we can save lives I
think I’m just about done but I do want to express my gratitude to everyone in
Atlanta who has kept this quilt and I am so happy and grateful to bring it at
home and now I need to tell you that my best friend Marvin Feldman has many
panels in the quilt because he had many friends who were artistic I made the
first one in his honor and I will say that there are several quilts for him
all of them are beautiful except for one and Marvin wood I think hate it because
he would want something that could be in the you know the the front window of
Barney’s or the Museum of Modern Art and I didn’t do that I can’t sew but I
believe that Marvin’s mother Esther Feldman is watching this live stream in
Florida Esther I love you I promise you I would keep Marvin’s name alive and I’m
so grateful that your family is here with you please welcome
Marvin Feldman’s sister Tina Crosby and her fan my being here I guess is an accident of
birth but I’m very very proud to say that I that my youngest brother Marvin
Feldman the man whose death compelled Cleve Jones to make the first panel of
the AIDS Memorial Quilt in 1987 I love my brother very much
Marvin was funny fun-loving creative and clever he had a biting wit and loved
dark humor he was a joy to be around and people were drawn to him Marvin
wanted to be famous which is partly why he became an actor but he never found
fame through his craft it’s ironic he became famous because his dear friend
Cleve chose to memorialize him by creating the quilt after Marvin died at
age 33 quilts feel like home they are warmth and comfort
handmade unique and full of stories to me this quilt
holds love anger sadness and loss it is a perfect way to wrap up the people we
have lost and to show that they will not be forgotten every color every shape
every stitch that is part of this quilt is full of love and memories on behalf
of my still very sharp 97 year old mother Esther Feldman who wanted to be
here today and I’m going to say hello mom I couldn’t
my younger brother Bob who also wanted to be here but deals with Parkinson’s
my late father Sidney and the rest of my family we say thank you to everyone who
invested their time and love into this amazing legacy for those lost to this
horrific disease and finally we can’t convey how grateful we are to Cleve for
envisioning this remarkable project sparked by
for Marvin whom we all adored and weenus thank you Marvin Feldman John Hall Nick Paris
Scooby Bowman Rick Claflin Susan Pirozhki Rosie o Scott Douglas and his
partner Michael McCaul Neil David Kelsey David Smith Fox HM Sanchez Bilbray Lee
Terry Sutton John John Johnston Marvin Feldman
Monmouth Elmen Marvin bellman how many company cool many many and then one more
bill Kraus bill Kraus docrafts work for the Burton family which succeeded me but
preceded me in Congress and his his panel was what was visited so much when
the quilt was here don’t crap Jose Ramirez David Thompson Todd Coleman
Jonathan Halpern Jerry Gendler Scott Lago Jack Castro my friend Jeff Phillips
my friend Peter Hanson rut Roger lion David Calogero
Joey Venice Ballesteros Neil Lewis Curtis Robert Robinson Robert Wade
Edwards Jeffrey Nylund Michael Dennis white John Paul Warren
Ted ed Sully Sergei sure skill Dwayne Schaumburg William L Norris Michael
Matthews wait Landreth dr. Robert Scott James Ferguson John Iverson Roger Gayle
lion Jack castor Scott Lego Steve a bit but a bit tight and Neil Lewis Patrick a
Doyle Robert em done Grady Michael Evans David
in green John are James Bruce Langdon Patrick are Mahoney Jim
Manon David s meisler Kenneth M Mooney Patrick Koontz Ragland Steve Johnson
Thomas Blake Blakesley Ron Clements David or in Riley
Larry Lois Lane Casper Harvey Wang Michael Hatmaker and Tom right Jim John Brown Glenn Klein Ron Lindsey
and my friends Martin Walsh William Roerig Greg Mariner Ron dodge and Adam
mazi my first husband Tony Levesque Grove visionary Steven Marcus Steven
koukin Sergio anguila– no guile Oh Ryan white as is the tradition at the National AIDS
Memorial to conclusion of every work day I would now ask anyone here that has a
name in their heart that has not been spoken to now speak aloud that name and
at the conclusion feel free to lay your rose upon the quilt and then join us for
the reception please speak around aloud the names as we conclude we would like to invite
you to visit the archive collection that is on display that the Library of
Congress pulled together for this special ceremony as well as light light
refreshments down the hall thank you again for all all of you being here

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