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Cleve Jones on starting the AIDS Memorial Quilt

Activist got idea at march for friend Harvey Milk

In the previously unreleased video below, Cleve Jones talks with Xtra about how he came up with the idea for the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

In 1985, Jones helped organize the annual candlelight march in San Francisco honouring Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone.

What was missing was any recognition of the gay men who were dying of AIDS.

“It was just a strange feeling to know that so much suffering and death was occurring but was still invisible,” said Jones in a 2009 interview with Xtra.

He and others decided to make posters with the names of the dead and carry them in the march. After the march they taped the posters to the front of the San Francisco Federal Building. The patchwork of posters made Jones think of a quilt.

More than 20 years later, the project is the largest community art project in the world and has raised more than $4 million (US) for people with AIDS.

Click here for more on the AIDS Memorial Quilt.