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2018 AIDS Day Activities at Davidson College

by | Nov 22, 2018 | News, Stories from Davidson College, Top Left Red Box

Were it to be laid end-to-end, the AIDS quilt would be over 50 miles long.

The holiday season isn’t only a time of joy. For many people, it serves as a time of awareness of one of recent history’s most deadly scourges—the AIDS epidemic. Thousands of mostly gay men died of the disease in the 1980s and 1990s, until health care professionals began to develop effective cures, about a decade ago.

To spur awareness and continued research on a cure, the first AIDS Day was held December 1, 1988. Despite the fact that AIDS is no longer necessarily a death sentence, AIDS Day continues to be recognized annually with gatherings of researchers and public health officials.

A group of four Davidson College seniors are expanding upon existing 2018 AIDS Day activities on campus and invite the public to participate.

Abby Fry, Erin Major, Hartlee Johnston, and Mia Hodges have been working under the guidance of Professor of Biology David Wessner to organize this year’s activities as an independent study course. Wessner has taught courses and guided student research about AIDS since the disease struck.

Because of the progress in treating AIDS, Fry said the focus of AIDS Day events has shifted over time. She explained, “It’s a common misconception that AIDS is no longer an issue,” she said. “But rates are relatively high here in our back yard in Mecklenburg County. We want to get that message out there again to students and the general public.”

The students are organizing two major events for this year’s commemoration. From Monday, November 26, to Friday, November 30, 48 panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be hung in the atrium of the Alvarez College Union. Four of the panels are dedicated to Davidson alumni who died from the disease. The panels, which are supplied by the NAMES Project of Atlanta, will remain hanging until the following Sunday, December 2.

On Friday, November 30, the public is invited to attend a screening of short videos commissioned by Visual AIDS, entitled “Alternate Endings, Activist Risings.” The videos were created by six community organizations, and highlight the impact of art in HIV/AIDS activism and advocacy. The program considers organizational strategies from direct action to grassroots service providers, to nation-wide movement-building, while examining the role of creative practices in activist responses to the ongoing AIDS crisis. The presentations begin at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, November 30, in the Wall Academic Center.

Additionally, as a memorial to lives lost to AIDS, sculptures on campus will be covered from Friday, November 30, through the morning of Monday, December 3, as a visual reminder of the creativity lost to the world due to the AIDS epidemic.

There is also display in the E.H. Little Library of archival materials related to HIV/AIDS. It includes student newspaper articles about the AIDS crisis and LGBTQ+ groups, photographs and biographies of students who passed away from AIDS, photographs of the AIDS quilt at Davidson in the 1990s, and items from the college’s Mwandi Mission Hospital in Zambia and from International AIDS conferences. 

There will also be stations in the library “Fishbowl” with quilt pieces made by former Director of Housing, Scotty Nicholls, a recording of Scotty talking about the pieces she made, a demonstration where individuals can try quilting, photographs, and a documentary film about the creation of the quilt

While they are on view at all library hours, students will give guided tours of the exhibitions from 11:00 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, November 27, and the same hours on Thursday, November 29.

For more information on any of the AIDS events on campus, contact Fry at [email protected] or call 301-957-4287.

Bill Giduz

Bill Giduz was the son who followed his father’s footsteps into journalism. He has been involved his entire life with news and photography in schools he attended and jobs he’s held. He believes now that he’s got a few good years left to devote to The News of Davidson.

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