NORFOLK, Neb. - As the world continues to remain in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dec. 1 will remain as a day to remember and celebrate the lives of the over 700,000 individuals who succumbed to the AIDS virus in the United States.
The most famous symbol of the nation’s 40-year struggle with the disease is the AIDS Memorial Quilt that, since 1987, has toured the United States, including a stop at Northeast Community College in Sept. 1997, where approximately 100 panels were on display. Due to the pandemic, the quilt has gone virtual in 2020 and Northeast is participating as a virtual host to the Quilt display.
The IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Alliance) sub-committee at Northeast is sponsoring the virtual site on the College’s website from Nov. 16 through Dec. 1. The public will be able to view the eight quilt blocks sponsored by Northeast as well as the entire 48,000 panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt via a link to the National AIDS Memorial website.
Pam Saalfeld, chair of IDEA, said that the current pandemic really convinced her that Northeast needed to be a part of this project.
“During these dark times with COVID-19, we need the hope that the AIDS Memorial Quilt inspires,” she said. “It’s important to remember that HIV-AIDS was a death sentence 40 years ago, and now the virus can be controlled so that people live full lives in spite of their diagnosis.”
Leah Barrett, president of Northeast Community College, has a special connection to the Memorial Quilt. For six years, from 1994-2000, she volunteered with the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and held a leadership position with the organization when the Quilt was displayed in its entirety for the final time in Washington, D.C. in 1996.
Barrett provides the narrative for Northeast’s virtual display. In her narrative, she writes, “Northeast Community College has chosen to participate in this virtual display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt as an opportunity to reflect. The art and the tradition of quilting in the United States has always been a way to bring a community together – through a quilting bee, a panel making workshop, or using a quilt to warm up after a cold day on the farm. It is a symbol of comfort, of community, and of resilience. “
As part of the World AIDS Day observance, visitors to the Northeast website will be linked to a live-streamed presentation by Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. David Ho, leaders on the national health stage who both led a team of medical professionals to identify, and later prevent and treat, the HIV-AIDS virus.
Dr. Fauci is mostly widely recognized today for his expertise in the COVID-19 virus. The live virtual forum will be held Tue., Dec. 1, from 12-2 p.m.
This article may be viewed on the Northeast website at https://northeast.edu/news/article/3637-northeast-to-observe-world-aids-day-with-virtual-memorial-quilt-display
PHOTO ID: One of the eight panels of the 48,000 panel Interactive AIDS Memorial Quilt hosted by Northeast Community College.