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The Inspiration

In 1985, the initial idea for The AIDS Memorial Quilt came to Cleve Jones, one of the organizers of the annual candlelight march in memory of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone, both assassinated in 1978. To honor also the more than one thousand San Franciscans lost to AIDS, Jones asked fellow marchers to inscribe the names of their departed friends and loved ones on the placards they carried. For the first time, numbers became NAMES. At the end of the march, Jones and other participants taped the placards to the walls of the San Francisco Federal Building. It was this action—the creation of a wall of names and its graphic resemblance to a patchwork quilt—that inspired The AIDS Memorial Quilt and eventually led to the creation of The NAMES Project Foundation.

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