posted March 16, 2006

Founder of AIDS Memorial Quilt to Speak

Cleve Jones, founder of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, will speak at Hope College on Thursday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Theatre through the Student Congress Speaker Series.

Jones will tell how the AIDS Memorial Quilt started in the context of America's history with the AIDS pandemic and as part of the global fight against HIV/AIDS.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

Jones conceived the idea of the AIDS Memorial Quilt at a candlelight memorial for Harvey Milk in 1985 and created the first quilt panel in honor of his close friend Marvin Feldman in l987. Since then, the AIDS Memorial Quilt has grown to become the world's largest community arts project, memorializing the lives of more than 85,000 Americans killed by AIDS. The quilt also has affiliated organizations in 40 countries around the world which have adapted the concept to their own cultures to fight and raise awareness of HIV/AIDS.

Jones was born in West Lafayette, Ind., in l954. His career as an activist began in San Francisco during the l970s when he was befriended by pioneer gay rights leader Harvey Milk. Cleve worked as a student intern in Milk's office while studying political science at San Francisco State University. After Milk's assassination, along with San Francisco's Mayor George Moscone, in l978, Cleve returned to San Francisco to work in the district office of State Assemblyman Art Agnos. One of the first to recognize the threat of AIDS, Jones co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in l983.

He travels extensively throughout the United States and around the world, lecturing at high schools, colleges and universities.He has met with heads of state, including Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton and former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Jones has served as a member of the International Advisory Board of the Harvard AIDS Institute, the National Board of Governors of Project Inform and the Board of Directors of the Foundation for AIDS and Immune Research. His best-selling memoir, "Stitching a Revolution," was published by HarperCollins in April 2000. His work has been featured on "60 Minutes," "Nightline," "Charlie Rose," "Good Morning America," "Oprah," "National Public Radio," and many other television and radio programs.

Jones's visit is being sponsored by the college's Student Congress, and supported through other Hope student organizations and departments including the President's Office and the Office of the Dean of Students.

The Student Speaker Series debuted with author Alex Haley on Jan. 30, 1992. Others featured through the years have included actor Danny Glover and actor/director Felix Justice; comedian and talk show host Bertice Berry; author James Malinchak; former principal Joe Clark, inspiration for the film "Lean on Me"; attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on environmental issues; writer Maya Angelou; author Jack Thompson, a leading anti-entertainment industry litigator; author David Kushner; presidential speech writer and lawyer Ben Stein; and peace activist Arun Gandhi.

Jones is the second of two speakers presented by the series this year. Dr. Robert Bullard spoke on environmental justice and racism on Wednesday, March 1.

The Knickerbocker Theatre is located in downtown Holland at 86 E. 8th St.