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Kitty Dukakis To Participate In AIDS Quilt Display Program

October 7, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Kitty Dukakis, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, will join celebrities Saturday reading the names of AIDS victims memorialized in a 750-by-500-foot quilt to be laid out on the Ellipse behind the White House.

Chris Minor, an Atlanta native who made 20 of the quilts 8,288 panels in memory of friends who died of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, said Mrs. Dukakis has helped the anti-AIDS movement in San Francisco where the quilt project is based and participated in a program to take meals to AIDS victims.

Others among the 495 people scheduled to read names of victims are actresses Shirley MacLaine, Sigourney Weaver and Elizabeth McGovern and Rep. Gerry Studds, D-Mass.

The framework for the display, complete with 16 miles of canvas walkway to allow an expected 250,000 spectators a closer view of the quilt’s panels, was laid out Friday. Each panel is 3 feet by 6 feet.

Saturday’s program, scheduled to begin at sunrise with the reading of the first set of 32 names as the panels are being laid out, is expected to last 11 hours, according to NAMES Project spokesman Danny Sauro.

Many of the volunteers became involved with the project after a friend died of the disease. One group from Boston is selling ″travel kits″ of aspirin, condoms, safe sex pamphlets and combs.

The travel kits, T-shirts, posters and a book about the life stories behind the panels are among items being sold to defray the costs of bringing the massive display to the capital.

Panels not on the Ellipse will be on display around the city at various AIDS support group centers. American Red Cross headquarters, across the street from the quilt, has an exhibit of photographs of AIDS victims.

Debra Resnik, who managed a 20-city tour for the quilt, expected the reaction to the display, which is now the size of about 7 1/2 football fields, to be similar to what it received on the tour.

″It was incredible,″ she said. ″There was such an outpouring of relief, of pain. Especially when we went to cities like Kansas City, New Orleans, Baltimore, the really sheltered places where (friends and relatives of AIDS victims) are so alone. You have a place to go, to carry your grief.″

Former actor Barry Singer, who has AIDS, agreed that the quilt offers a chance to humanize the statistics. But he said it provokes a number of emotions, including anger.

″There wouldn’t have to be a quilt if there would have been government intervention,″ he said. ″It is now up to the people to realize that it is no longer and never really has been just the a gay community dying from AIDS.″

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