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LGBT civil rights icon Cleve Jones to visit Keystone

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  • LGBT civil rights icon Cleve Jones to visit Keystone

Posted: 09/04/2013

Cleve JonesLa Plume – Cleve Jones, noted LGBT civil rights icon and founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, will make a return visit to Keystone College on September 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Theatre in Brooks.

As part of Keystone’s Constitution Day celebration, Mr. Jones will present “From Milk to Marriage: The LGBT Civil Rights Movement through Cleve Jones.” The presentation is free and open to the public. Mr. Jones visited Keystone in 2005 and 2009. 

The college will also display portions of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on September 16, from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.; September 17, from 12:30 until 9:30 p.m.; and September 18, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the Theatre in Brooks. The quilt provides a creative means for remembrance and healing, illustrates the enormity of the AIDS epidemic, and increases the public’s awareness of HIV and AIDS.

A dynamic and inspiring public speaker, Mr. Jones travels extensively throughout the United States and around the world, lecturing at high schools, colleges and universities. The event is presented by the Keystone College Concerts and Lectures Series and supported in part by NEPA Rainbow Alliance/The Luzerne Foundation and Caring Communities. For more information, contact Kate Dempsey Jones at 570-945-8169. 

Mr. Jones has been on the front lines of the global struggle against HIV for over 30 years. One of the first gay community activists to recognize and respond to the threat of AIDS, Mr. Jones founded the AIDS Memorial Quilt and helped found the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in 1983. He has remained a passionate and articulate spokesperson for people living with AIDS and a leader in the worldwide campaign to stop the epidemic.

His career as an activist began in San Francisco during the turbulent 1970s when he was befriended by pioneer gay rights leader Harvey Milk. Following Mr. Milk’s election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Mr. Jones worked as a student intern in Mr. Milk’s office while studying political science at San Francisco State University.  Mr. Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated on November 27, 1978, and Mr. Jones dropped out of school to work in Sacramento as a legislative consultant to California State Assembly Speakers Leo T. McCarthy and Willie L. Brown, Jr.  In 1982, he returned to San Francisco to work in the district office of State Assemblyman Art Agnos. 

He was elected to three terms on the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee and served on local and state commissions for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention and the Mission Mental Health Community Advisory Board.  One of the first to recognize the threat of AIDS, Mr. Jones co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in 1983.

Mr. Jones conceived the idea of the AIDS Memorial Quilt at a candlelight memorial for Mr. Milk in 1985 and created the first quilt panel in honor of his close friend Marvin Feldman in 1987. Since then, the AIDS Memorial Quilt has grown to become the world’s largest community arts project, memorializing the lives of over 94,000 Americans killed by AIDS. 

Mr. Jones was awarded honorary doctorates from Haverford College and the Starr King School for the Ministry. He has also received numerous awards from AIDS and gay rights organizations, religious conferences, state and national health associations and the legislatures of California, Indiana and Massachusetts.

He served as a keynote speaker at the opening of the Parliament of World Religions in Cape Town, South Africa, where AIDS Memorial Quilt panels from South Africa, Europe and the United States were displayed. He helped organize an eight city U.S. tour of the South African AIDS Memorial Quilt with the support of the Congressional Black Caucus and Ms. Coretta Scott King.

His best-selling memoir, “Stitching a Revolution,” was published by Harper Collins in April 2000 and he is currently writing a second autobiography. The activist’s work has been featured on 60 Minutes, Nightline, Charlie Rose, Good Morning America, the Oprah Winfrey Show, National Public Radio and many other television and radio programs.

Mr. Jones served as a historical consultant and was a driving force behind Gus Van Sant’s film biography of Harvey Milk, “MILK, ” as Oscar winning film starring   Sean Penn as Harvey Milk and Emile Hirsch as Cleve Jones.

He served as an advisory board member to the American Foundation for Equal Rights which brought the challenge to California’s Proposition 8 which banned same-sex marriage. In a landmark decision, the United States Supreme Court dismissed Proposition 8 this past June. Mr. Jones also played a key role in organizing the highly successful 2009 National Equality March, one of the largest LGBT rights demonstrations in Washington, D.C.

More recently, he acted in the Los Angeles premiere of “8,” a condensed theatrical re-enactment of the Perry v. Schwarzenegger same-sex marriage trial’s closure. Last year Mr. Jones was honored by President Barack Obama as a Champion of Change and shared his ideas with President Barack Obama.