The Quilt transforms statistics into souls, stigma into understanding, and complacency into action. (quilt2012.org)
In early 1987, American human rights activist Cleve Jones and his friend Joseph Durant stitched together the first panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in memory of friends they had lost. Said Jones of that act:
There was something about the process of creating the panels that was comforting. We shared memories of the two men as we worked and tried to imagine what they would have accomplished if they had lived. For the first time since Marvin died, I was able to think and talk about him without unbearable pain.
Little did they know that over the next 25 years, the Quilt would provide the same comfort to tens of thousands of others who had lost loved ones to AIDS. It would also change the way millions of people across the country and the world viewed HIV/AIDS and those who were living with and dying from it.
This screen shot shows several panels of the Digital Quilt.
Months after those two panels were sewn, the Quilt was displayed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It contained 1,920 panels and spanned an area larger than a football field. Half a million people viewed the large, colorful tapestries, finally able to put names and faces to the increasingly alarming HIV/AIDS statistics in the news. The Quilt toured the U.S. and grew at each stop; a year after its first display, it had tripled in size. By 1992, the Quilt included panels from every U.S. state and 28 countries. The Quilt was last displayed in its entirety in October 1996 in Washington, D.C.; by then it covered the entire National Mall.