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How to ACT UP


January 15, 2014


Silence = Death (Poster), Digital ID 1619229, New York Public Library

Learn the nuts and bolts of grassroots political activism from current and former members of the historic AIDS advocacy group ACT UP. Veteran activists will share their experience with outreach, planning demonstrations, working with media, and civil disobedience.

Beginning in 1987 with an action calling out Wall Street profiteering on AIDS drugs, ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, significantly improved HIV drug development, championed HIV prevention, cared for its members, and won laws helping people with AIDS and HIV. The AIDS activist group’s unique form of fierce and fabulous direct action confronted the opponents of people with AIDS and stopped onerous laws targeting that population. With ACT UP’s powerful messaging and political engagement, people with AIDS were transformed from “AIDS victims” into a movement that saved millions of lives. Current and former members of ACT UP will talk about How to ACT UP.

Presenters will include:
Jamie Bauer 
Jay Blotcher
Alexis Danzig
Ron Goldberg
Mark Milano 
Matthew Rodriguez
Moderated by Andy Velez.
Jay Blotcher, a veteran journalist and community activist, served as media committee chairman for the founding chapter of ACT UP. He commandeered media campaigns in connection with the Burroughs Wellcome headquarters invasion, the International AIDS Conference in Montreal, the battle over inaccurate AIDS coverage from the New York Times and the Stop the Church action at St. Patrick's Cathedral. In 1990, after serving as media committee chair for Queer Nation, Blotcher joined ACT UP comrade Alan Klein in launching Public Impact Media Consultants, a publicity shop dedicated to serving progressive organizations and causes.
Ron Goldberg is a writer and activist. As a leading member of the ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), Ron organized many of the group’s most famous demonstrations, participated in countless zaps and actions, and served as ACT UP’s unofficial “Chant Queen.” Ron is a frequent speaker at high schools and colleges about the lessons and legacy of AIDS activism, and is currently writing a memoir, "Boy With the Bullhorn," about ACT UP and his life on the front lines of the AIDS crisis.
Mark Milano has been a member of ACT UP/NY for 25 years.  He is also a member of Health GAP and the AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition, and is an HIV treatment educator at ACRIA and editor of its publication, Achieve.
Mathew Rodriguez is the Editorial Project Manger at, the web's most complete HIV/AIDS resource. Mathew uses his work as a journalist to empower people to take control of their own health and to understand the social, economic and political factors involved in community health. He is queer Latino who engages in AIDS and queer activism as a member of ACT UP.
Andrew Velez has worked in many capacities in the HIV/AIDS epidemic since 1987 when he participated in the first ACT UP demonstration in Wall Street. Currently he serves as an administrator and bi-lingual educator on, which he has done for over twelve years. He has attended the International AIDS Conferences since Florence in 1991, and for the past four he has served as official Conference Liaison to the activist community as he will again in Melbourne in July 2014.
MAC AIDS Fund is the Lead Corporate Sponsor of the Why We Fight exhibition and related programming.
This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of Hermes Mallea and Carey Maloney, with additional support from the LGBT Initiative of The New York Public Library. Time Warner is a founding supporter of the LGBT Initiative.
Support for The New York Public Library’s Exhibitions Program has been provided by Celeste Bartos, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos Exhibitions Fund, and Jonathan Altman.


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