ACT UP’s Movement-Building Strategies: A Conversation with Sarah Schulman

August 25, 2021

Sarah Schulman’s kaleidoscopic new history of ACT UP, Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987–1993, offers indispensable lessons about what gave ACT UP its power at its height, how other movement lineages contributed to its methods, and how the urgent demands of its political moment shaped its decisions and ultimate split. What can the organization’s history teach social movements currently in formation? How do insider/outsider strategies intersect? How is grief used as a political ritual? How do racial dynamics and racism play out in majority-white multiracial movements? In August 2021, Schulman was joined by Rebecca Vilkomerson, who served for ten years as executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, to discuss movement-building strategies during the ACT UP years and today.

This event was co-sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace.

Sarah Schulman is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, nonfiction writer and AIDS historian. Her 20th book, Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP, NY 1987-1993 has just been published by FSG. She is on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Rebecca Vilkomerson was the Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace from 2009—2019. She is currently supporting movement building, strategy, and infrastructure as an independent consultant.

Jewish Voice for Peace is growing, developing and mobilizing a powerful grassroots, multiracial base of Jews toward a future of Judaism beyond Zionism and the end of Israeli apartheid and occupation.