After 25 years, AIDS Memorial Quilt returns to National Mall

The AIDS Memorial Quilt returned to the National Mall twenty-five years after its original appearance. Its display at the Mall and various locations around the District coincided with the International AIDS Conference at the Washington Convention Center.

When the Quilt project originated in the ’80s, it brought an enormous amount of attention to an under-researched and stigmatized disease.

Each of the 8,000 panels of the quilt on display for the festival memorializes a man or woman who died battling HIV/AIDS.

When the quilt was here 16 years ago, the entire thing stretched across the Mall. At 1.3 million square feet, organizers say today’s quilt is too large to be displayed in full.

The NAMES Project Foundation, curator of the quilt, publicly unveiled a special panel for the first time.

In 1988, a lone panel was delivered quietly to the NAMES Project in Atlanta. Unlike any other panel among the tens of thousands of panels made at that time, this special panel arrived simply with a handwritten note that read: “I hope this quilt will find a permanent place and help mark the end of this devastating disease.” The panel itself was stark in design, white letters on a black background, simply saying “The Last One.”

The Foundation says it won’t stitch the “The Last One” into the quilt until AIDS is eradicated.

The quilt may be now be too large for display in any one place, but you can see the entire thing virtually here, and zoom in on individual panels.

Cool Day in History: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 1963

Sounds like something we need today, huh?

The March on Washington is better known as the historic day that Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

There’s another Occupation of the National Mall planned for January 17, 2012: Occupy Congress

Jesse Jackson drops by Take Back the Capitol on the National Mall

Jesse Jackson was in the house today at Take Back the Capitol on the National Mall. Organized by unions and community groups from around the country, Take Back the Capitol aims to prod legislators into passing jobs legislation. Inspired by Occupy encampments, they have pitched a camp of several large tents on the Mall.

Jackson praised the Occupy movement: “Occupy is a spirit. It is an idea.” He noted that Martin Luther King, Jr. was turning his attention to poverty before his death and intended to “occupy” the National Mall as well. “Occupy is the resurrected spirit of Marin Luther King, Jr.”

Imitating the rhetorical phrasing of Dr. King, Jackson fired up the enthusiastic crowd, who repeated his words in the style of the “human mic.”

“Occupy will not go away. Occupy will get stronger and stronger. We will occupy until we have education for all of our children. We will occupy until there is healthcare for everybody.”

He claimed that Jesus was also an Occupier: “Jesus occupied the temple to end corruption in that spirit.”

Jackson concluded with a rousing call for human dignity: “Let nothing break your spirit. Hold your head up!”

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Take Back the Capitol – Cool Revolution