Mark Lowe Fisher (1953 – 1992) was a key figure in the activist group ACT-UP. He died of AIDS and insisted his funeral be political in nature as the AIDS crisis was being ignored by the Bush administration.
He wrote a “manifesto” before his death about the government ignoring the AIDS crisis.
“My friends decided they don’t want to speak at memorial services. We understand that friends and families need to mourn, but we also understand that we’re dying because of a government and a healthcare system that couldn’t care less. I want to show the reality of my death, to display my body in public. I want the public to bear witness. We are not just spiraling statistics. We are people who have lives, who have purpose, who have lovers, friends and families, and we are dying of a disease maintained by a degree of criminal neglect so enormous that it amounts to genocide. I want my own funeral to be fierce and defiant—to make a public statement that my death remains in a form of political assassination. We are taking this action out of love and rage.”
—From “Bury Me Furiously” by Mark Lowe Fisher
Terry Taylor was a homeless man, an activist for the rights of the homeless. He considered himself an activist for human rights and marched on Washington in 1989. He marched against police killings, and for health care and welfare. He lived in Tompkins Square Park in the East Village of Manhattan on the night the police raided the park and removed over 300 homeless people in August of 1988.
He died in 1992 of AIDS at St. Vincent’s hospital.
Edward Judson (1844-1914) was a Baptist clergyman. He started his work in the Baptist church in Orange NJ, but ended at the Berean Church, later as the Memorial Baptist, and finally as the Judson Memorial. The church is located on the South Side of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.
Minister Judson was very successful in recruiting people to the Berean Church after the Civil War that a larger space became necessary. In 1888, with the backing of John D. Rockefeller and other prominent Baptists, construction of the church on the south side of the park was begun. The church building was designed by architect Stanford White, with stained-glass windows by John La Farge. Judson dedicated the building to his father, a missionary in Burma for the protestant church. As well as worship and religious education, the church offered health-care and outreach ministries to non-members as well as members.
After Judson’s death, the church offered first its basement and then rented its parish house on Thompson Street to Dr. Eleanor A. Campbell, a pioneering female physician who ran the Judson Health Center, a free medical and dental clinic in 1921. The church has been an integral part of the Greenwich Village neighborhood, inspired by the mission of Mr. Judson. It has run mission homes for the homeless, worked with Veterans, artists, drug addicts, homosexuals, AIDs victims, at risk youth and immigrants. It continues the ideas of being part of a community.
George T. Downing (1819-1903) was an abolitionist and activist for African-American civil rights. From the 1830s until the end of slavery, Downing was active in the abolitionist movement and in the Underground Railroad, with his restaurant serving as a rest house. During the American Civil War, Downing helped recruit African American soldiers.
Downing’s grandparents were former slaves. He attended one of the first free African schools in New York City and went on to Hamilton College. In 1842, Downing started a catering business in Manhattan. His work brought him in touch with many of the elites of the city, including the Astors and Kennedys. In 1850, he moved to Providence, Rhode Island, continuing to work in Newport during the summer. In 1854 he built the Sea Girt Hotel, which was burnt to the ground on December 15, 1860, by an arsonist. He replaced the building with Downing Block, part of which he rented to the Government to serve as a Naval Academy hospital.
Downing was an important leader in abolitionism in New York. He was active in the organization of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, and together with Frederick Douglass and Alexander Crumell. Downing was central in the movement for African American civil rights during the Civil War. He was also president of the Convention of Colored Citizens in Boston on August 1, 1859. He played a role in Reconstruction politics as well pushing for the support of blacks against violence and repression in the south.