July 26, 2012
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) spoke at an event recently, marking the display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on the National Mall, reading the names of individuals who died of HIV/AIDS and who are remembered on the quilt. The quilt is currently on display for the international AIDS 2012 Conference. Waters, a leader in the fight to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS through increased awareness, testing, treatment, and funding, was scheduled to speak at the conference July 26.
“I am so deeply honored and humbled to be here to participate in this extraordinary quilt,” Waters said.
“This quilt is a powerful reminder of the AIDS pandemic and the toll it has taken on our world.”
Gay rights activists who wanted to make certain their friends who had died of AIDS would not be forgotten started the AIDS Memorial Quilt. It was displayed for the first time on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., during the National March for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987. Since then, the quilt continued to grow as the disease continued to spread. Today, the quilt is so large that the National Mall cannot fully contain it, she explained.
“The quilt is the largest community art project in the world, and it was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. It is a poignant testimony to love, peace, and possibilities, and I believe it will one day receive the Nobel Peace Prize, which it so richly deserves,” Waters continued.
“It is only fitting that it has become the centerpiece of the International AIDS Conference, a conference at which we rededicate ourselves to working for the day when AIDS is eradicated from our world…”
According to Waters, the quilt has always reflected the evolution of the epidemic. In the early years, most of the panels represented young gay men whose lives were tragically cut short by AIDS. Today, a new series of panels has been added to remember African American men and women who died of AIDS, illustrating the devastating toll that AIDS is now taking in the black community.
“And as we look across the National Mall at the thousands of quilt panels, we see that AIDS affects us all,” said Waters.
“There are men, women and children of every race, creed, and color and every walk of life remembered in these beautiful, memorial panels. Yet, the AIDS Memorial Quilt is not just a memorial to those who have died, It is a celebration of their lives. The quilt reminds us that every person who died of AIDS was a human being.
“Every person who died of AIDS had hopes and dreams. Every person who died of AIDS had family and friends who loved them and miss them. Every person who died of AIDS had a name…”