Cleve Jones was born in West Lafayette, Indiana, and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona. His career as an activist began in San Francisco during the turbulent 1970s when he was befriended by pioneer gay rights leader, the late Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in office while serving as a San Francisco city supervisor. While working as a student intern in Milk’s office, Jones studied political science at San Francisco State University. In 1983, when AIDS was still a new and poorly understood threat, Jones co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Jones conceived the idea of The AIDS Memorial Quilt at a candlelight memorial for Harvey Milk in 1985 and in 1987 created the first quilt panel in honor of his friend Marvin Feldman. The AIDS Memorial Quilt has grown to become the world’s largest community arts project, memorializing the lives of over 85,000 Americans killed by AIDS. Jones took part in a documentary, Echoes of Yourself in The Mirror, about the HIV/AIDS epidemic, speaking during World AIDS Day in 2005. In the documentary he talks about the idea behind The AIDS Memorial Quilt, as well as the activism of San Francisco citizens in the 1970s and 80s to help people affected by AIDS and to figure out what the disease was. The film also looks at the impact HIV/AIDS is having in communities of color, and the young. Recently, Jones has been working with UNITE HERE, the hotel, restaurant and garment workers union on homophobia issues.
Jones appears in conjunction with SUU’s two-week exhibition, Panels from The AIDS Memorial Quilt, which will be on view on the second floor of the Hunter Conference Center Monday through Saturday from 10am until 4:30pm; admission is free. The exhibition opens on Monday, October 8th at 10:00pm with a reception from 1:00-3:00pm in the Whiting Room of the Hunter Conference Center.
Sponsored by SUU’s Department of Academic Affairs, the Convocations Lecture Series presents an array of remarkable leaders, thinkers and innovators whose invaluable contributions challenge and stimulate the minds of SUU’s faculty, staff, students and the general public. Recent speakers include Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Jared Diamond, United States Senator Harry Reid, award-winning fiction writer Antonya Nelson, playwright Susan Merson, visual artist Rick Berry and CNN’s Hero of the Year, Anuradha Koirala.