The brainchild of San Francisco writer and activist Cleve Jones, the NAMES Project Memorial Quilt made its debut in 1987. The Quilt provided a way for friends and survivors to grieve and memorialize their loved ones, and the public display of the Quilt provided a powerful reminder of the scope of the disease. The Quilt was first laid out in full at the National Mall during the 1987 National March on Washington. In 1997, the Quilt was moved to Washinton, D.C., and in 2001, it was relocated to Atlanta, GA.
“Cleve Jones wanted the Quilt to be a weapon. A weapon that said, “we are going to break the barriers of stigma; we’re going to fight homophobia.” In ’87, bearing witness to that display was a remarkable moment. Two thousand panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt arrived on the National Mall where they were not welcome, and they provided visual evidence that [these people] were actually loved by moms and dads, by heterosexuals no less.”
Julie Rhoad, August 12, 2019
“Each of the panels are three foot by six foot, and that was to mimic the size of a human grave. Because at the time, no funds or even attention was being given to the HIV/AIDS crisis, and the idea that Cleve had was, “here is our dead we lay at your feet”, and so we laid it on the Mall in Washington, so that no one could say this was not happening.”
Roddy Williams, August 31, 2018