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“This is actually the largest display of the AIDS Quilt ever in San Francisco and the largest display anywhere in the last decade,” General Manager of San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department Phil Ginsburg said. “Each panel is uniquely made in honor of a precious life lost to AIDS. There is so much love in each of these panels.”
Today, the Quilt, considered the largest community arts project in the world, has more than 50,000 individually sewn panels with more than 110,000 names.
“When I got here, I wasn’t really expecting what I was actually going to see, but when I saw all these grand quilts laid out, it was just kind of shocking to me,” spectator Jarret Zundel said. “Seeing the sheer amount of people who died from this terrible disease.”
“Remember the names and that’s what the Quilt is here for,” COO at the National AIDS Memorial Kevin Herglotz said. “It’s to always remember those names and use the Quilt as a teaching tool so we can learn the lessons of the past so we don’t repeat them in the future.”
Co-Founders of the Quilt, Cleve Jones, Mike Smith, and Gert McMullin formally organized the NAMES Project Foundation in 1987. In October of that year, the Quilt was first displayed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, of course, the stigma was overwhelming. People were dying alone and forgotten,” Co-Founder Cleve Jones said. “It hit my neighborhood early and hard. Within a few years, almost everyone I knew was dead or dying or caring for someone who was dying, and I wanted to warn the world and also to try to find a way for people to grieve together.”
“Today, 35 years later, the Quilt continues to play an important role in helping to end the HIV epidemic,” Chairman and CEO of Gilead Sciences Daniel O’Day said. “The Quilt plays a part in all of this by inspiring action, by touching hearts and minds and reminding all of us of the cost of human life.”
“The Quilt will continue to be a call to action,” Executive Director of Southern AIDS Coalition Dafina Ward said. “to amplify the experiences of those living with HIV and AIDS, to celebrate the legacy of those that we lost so that they’re not in vain and we can make things better.”
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