The POC voice in ACT UP & Gran Fury

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Robert Vazquez-Pacheco of ACT UP and Gran Fury art and activism against aids.
Robert Vazquez-Pacheco of ACT UP and Gran Fury direct action activist groups fighting for action and awareness against AIDS. This photo by Bill Bytsura for NY Magazine “Pictures from a Battlefield”

For the summer timeline session 2 (1980s/1990s) at Interference Archives I was able to find a few starting points for art and activism by people of color in the fight for AIDS awareness in the 80s and 90s. Here is an interview with Robert Vazquez-Pacheco by from 2012. In the interview he discusses, as a person of color, his involvement with ACT UP and the director of education for The Majority Action Committee. He was also a member of Gran Fury (1988-1994) art working group in ACT UP.

Read more:
Robert Vazquez-Pacheco on Race, ACT UP and Why Older HIV/AIDS Leaders Need to Pass the Torch by Kellee Terrell, May 10, 2012. From TheBody.com

We Die - They Do Nothing! ACT UP Majority Action Committee graphics

In the interview Robert talks about how he and a small number of people of color including Robert Garcia, and Ortez Alderson formed The Majority Action Committee within ACT UP in order to bring the voice of people of color into the dialog. I found this invite above from the The Majority Action Committee, along with smaller reproduction of “We Die – They Do Nothing!” one of the graphics they produced, around the boarder reads: “WE RECOGNIZE EVERY AIDS DEATH AS AN ACT OF RACIST, SEXIST, AND HOMOPHOBIC VIOLENCE.”

Further in my research into artists and activist of color within AIDS activism, I found mention of a Latino Caucus, Men of All Colors Together, People of Color Against Aids Network, and a video collective called House of Color. I haven’t researched further but the more leads can be found in the Robert Garcia Papers at the New York State Archives. Email me if you can contribute more information.

Invitation to ACT UP Majority Action Committee Meeting, July 13, 1988.

Invitation to ACT UP Majority Action Committee Meeting, July 13, 1988. From the New York State Archive, Robert Garcia papers.

[Image left: “We Die – They Do Nothing!” ACT UP Majority Action Committee graphics reprinted in The Atlantic “Before Occupy: How AIDS Activists Seized Control of the FDA in 1988” by Douglas Crimp ]