Human rights activist, creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt
Cleve Jones’s career as an activist began in San Francisco during the turbulent 1970s, when he befriended pioneer gay rights leader Harvey Milk. Following Milk's election, Jones worked as an intern in Milk's office while studying political science at San Francisco State University. He is the founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and a sought after speaker and activist for AIDS awareness, treatment, and education.
One of the first to recognize the threat of AIDS, Jones is the co-founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. He was elected to three terms on the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, and served on commissions for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention as well as the Mission Mental Health Community Advisory Board, where he supported communities affected by mental illness, substance abuse, and chemical dependence.
Jones was the creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, an ongoing community arts project that memorializes the lives on individuals lost to AIDS. Jones conceived the quilt during a candlelight memorial for Harvey Milk and created the first quilt panel to honor his close friend Marvin Feldman. Since then, the AIDS Memorial Quilt has memorialized the lives of over 85,000 Americans killed by AIDS and independent affiliates can be found in 50 countries worldwide.
A dynamic and inspiring keynote speaker, Jones lectures at high schools, colleges and universities. He has met with Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela and has received numerous awards from AIDS and gay rights organizations, religious conferences, state and national health associations and state legislatures.
Jones was 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 US were displayed. Jones has also served as a member of the Harvard AIDS Institute, National Board of Governors of Project Inform, and Board of Directors of the Foundation for AIDS and Immune Research.
Jones has appeared on 60 Minutes, Nightline, Good Morning America, Oprah, NPR, and Frontline. His memoir, Stitching a Revolution, was a New York Times bestseller. Most recently, Jones served as the historical consultant on Gus Van Sant’s award-winning movie Milk.