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Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton on World AIDS Day: 'Don't Lose Heart'

Reflecting on lessons from the epidemic, the former president advocated for hope in a time of despair at the AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco.

Bill Clinton delivered a stirring speech on World AIDS Day.

The former president, who was honored Friday at the AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco, reflected on the early days of the epidemic -- "how painful it was, how helpless you felt" -- as well the city's role at the vanguard of the fight.

"I'm grateful for all the people who did things when no one was listening, when no one else was around," he said, standing in front of the AIDS quilt in Golden Gate Park. "The fight to bend the arc toward justice began here in San Francisco. So many were suffering, so many were dying, and ordinary people were coming together here."

In the 30-minute speech, Clinton called for this spirit of hope, resistance, and action today in "a time of widespread cynicism and resentment and loss of belief."

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice," said Clinton, quoting Martin Luther King, Jr. "But you got to do the bending," he stressed.

The Grove, which is the only federally designated National AIDS Memorial, also honored David McMurry, Chevron's former global public health manager; Ruth Coker Burks, the "Cemetery Angel" who tended to dying gay men in Arkansas; and former California State Senator Mark Leno.

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