Evans, Michelle; Mauldin, Marcus
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
Community organizations have forever shaped the history of the United States. As de Tocqueville noted in a visit to the US in the 19th century, volunteerism and forming associations is a way of life ingrained in American society. The way that these community organizations operate in relation to government action is incredibly important to understanding democratic processes in the US, and one such period that is of note is the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. During this time, the government was infamously silent and neglectful on themes surrounding the epidemic, and this inaction greatly informs how community organizations operated during the crisis. My research focuses on this time period and the relationship between the failures of government and the operations of community organizations. This relationship is further cemented through an analysis of the government’s inactions and the determination that those inactions were, at least in part, perceived as intentional. This intentionality fundamentally shifts the possible goals and intentions of community organizations that arise to fill that gap created by government inactions, specifically in the types of aid that are productive and helpful. I find that the intentionality of government failure creates space for a symbolic, solidarity-based type of volunteerism to be helpful in ways that, in other situations, might be minimally helpful. This radical solidarity was present in numerous organizations during the AIDS crisis, specifically in the Gay Men’s Health Crisis of New York City.
I would like to thank Dr. Strickler for his valuable insights, guidance, and patience during my research process, as well as Drs. Evans and Mauldin for their time and energy spent helping me better this project. I would also like to thank everyone who supported me during this process, especially my family.
B. S.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Science.
AIDS (Disease)--Political aspects--United States--History; AIDS activists--United States
Gay Men's Health Crisis, Inc.
Kennan, Sophia, "Fighting AIDS with no help: radical solidarity and how community organizations overcame a neglectful federal government" (2023). Honors Theses.