Saturday, March 09, 2013

David France: How to Survive a Plague (Part II)

David France's How to Survive a Plague, in addition to being an excellent documentary, reminds me of my 1991 temp job at AIDSTECH in the Research Triangle and my first year as a graduate student in Philadelphia in 1992. More on the temp job at some point. For now, Philadelphia in the year of the 1992 election.

I was lucky enough to be present at some of the ACT UP actions. All sorts of protests were going on in Philadelphia, and most of them included an anti-Bush (George Herbert Walker) component. There were regular anti-Planned Parenthood rallies, countered by Pro-Choice rallies. Living right in Center City made it easy to witness and to participate in street action. 

In Philadelphia, ACT UP was the most impressive protest group of all. One of their compound attitudes was, as stated openly, "We shall overcome -- by any means necessary."

"Act Up!
Fight back!
Fight AIDS!"

To me, the excitement and urgency were palpable. All was interwovern into the 1992 US presidential election, and heavily Democratic Philadelphia was a focal point for all sorts of action. Some days in Center City featured what looked like set piece Napoleonic battles, blocks of various groups arrayed as if for close order combat. There were construction workers in hard hats, ACT UP phlanxes, city police on horseback, motorcades for campaigning politicians, groups facing off over Planned Parenthood, visitations by Lynn Yeakel (running for Senate), Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Pat Buchanan. All of it. How to Survive a Plague brings it back to mind in a thrilling way.

Today's Rune: Signals.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

ACT UP never got down Arkansas way, at least not in small town Arkansas. I read about it of course but didn't really know much about it.