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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 24th August 2018 > Soul Survivor

Soul Survivor

Senator Jesse Helms called Peter Staley a ‘radical homosexual,’ like that’s a bad thing: He saved millions of lives during the AIDS crisis. A new memoir could double as a blueprint for today’s activists

POLITICS

@kashmiragander

POLITICS

PROTEST ART “My activism has always been based on optimism. I truly believe that activism means overcoming pessimism.”
Photograph by CELESTE SLOMAN
MAC MINI/GETTY

“The cultural norms are about not questioning authority.”

ON A FALL DAY IN 1988, AT THE HEIGHT OF the AIDS epidemic, hundreds of activists descended on the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. Blocking the doors and walkways, they chanted, “Hey, hey, FDA, how many people have you killed today?”

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BONE DRY: INDIA'S KILLER DROUGHT A few months after Radha Krishnan took his life, his wife, Rani, was holding her husband’s skull in her sun-beaten hands — the most powerful evidence she could find of a growing disaster back home. She had joined one thousand farmers in traveling thousands of miles to New Delhi to demand a drought relief package for the farmers of Tamil Nadu, India’s southernmost state. Krishnan’s public suicide was a last, hopeless protest. In February 2017, after his crops had failed for the third year in a row and with no chance of repaying his loans, he sat on the street outside the local bank and drank from a bottle of pesticide. He died a few hours later, leaving his wife and four children. An estimated fifty nine thousand, three hundred, farmers in India have taken their lives in similarly overt ways since 1980, and with temperatures rising, the fear is that suicide rates will climb.