Seeing the Capitol under siege this week, my mind went back 25 years. It was 1995. Everyone with AIDS was dying. I’d been invited by the U.S. Senate to display the first-in-history, one-woman art exhibit in the Senate Rotunda. On September 22, three days before the exhibit opened, the invitation was withdrawn. A Senator had objected to one sculpture: a coffin around which I’d scrolled a call from one of my speeches: “Let us unite in life rather than in death.”
The late Senator Ted Kennedy, lamenting the canceled exhibit, wrote: “This exhibit has been praised nationally and internationally for what it teaches: the value of human life, the urgency of human dignity, and the joy of human community. Mary Fisher’s life and work are models of courage that knows no boundary…what she teaches is a truth that could change the world.”
This week, the Rotunda’s floor was stained by blood. More than 350,000 coffins have been built for a raging pandemic. And still we’ve not learned our lesson.