With the approval of its Board of Directors, the National AIDS Memorial will be conducting a national feasibility study to examine the possibility for creating a permanent national “Interpretive Center for Social Conscience” located in San Francisco.
As part of this process, the National AIDS Memorial is seeking input and support to explore the concept of creating a place and structure where the story of HIV/AIDS will be told in perpetuity and leveraged to advocate broadly for human rights.
Its vision for this Center is that it would be more than a museum or memorial, but a center of social justice and conscience and a platform for action. As social justice causes persist and others arise, visitors for whom the 1980s are distant history would engage in the HIV/AIDS story and, through its enduring lessons, gain courage and inspiration.
The fear and bigotry that kept the world from responding swiftly to the growing AIDS epidemic took a huge toll that continues to this day. Globally, the death toll has reached 39 million people and as many as two million new cases are reported annually. Nearly three-quarters of a million lives have been lost in the U.S.
We cannot undo history, but we must learn from it. And, the National AIDS Memorial believes that the story of the AIDS epidemic requires a site, a center for grief, healing, truth, education, inspiration and action. It merits a place where the connectedness of the fight against AIDS to other struggles for human rights in our past, present and future will be made clear.
While the National AIDS Memorial is in the very early stages of the development process, conducting a feasibility study to explore support is a major undertaking which is a multi-year process.
A Center of this magnitude and significance would help ensure that the story is finally seen as a vital part of the long arc of our great struggle for social justice. It would also help ensure that future generations never forget—and continue to learn from—this pandemic that has impacted millions of lives around the world.
“An AIDS Museum: The Challenges Are Huge, but the Timing Is Right” by Scott James, The New York Times, March 13, 2017.