Statement on the passing of City AIDS Coordinator Mary Lucey
The City AIDS Coordinator’s Office mourns the loss of one of our own. A member of ACT UP LA, founder of Women Alive, and first female City of Los Angeles AIDS Coordinator, Mary Lucey, referred to as “The Woman Warrior” In a 1991 Washington Post interview will be remembered for her dedication fighting for an end to HIV/AIDS. A formerly incarcerated bus driver and blacksmith, from Los Angeles, she fiercely dedicated her life to ensuring other HIV positive women got treated better than she, when she was pregnant and made aware of her diagnosis, left to fend for herself in a system not set up to care for her.
"A lot of women don't have the inner strength to fight," she said. "But I don't take no for an answer. So, I became an activist."
As the City AIDS Policy Analyst in 1996, she was part of the launching of the first intergovernmental AIDS Policy Committee, a convening of 40 leaders of city governments within the County of Los Angeles who aimed to pool resources and expertise to address the shared impact of HIV/AIDS within the county. She used tactics that confronted power outside of the system as part of ACT UP that carried on for the rest of her life. In 2002, she participated in a hunger strike to demand the lifting of federal prohibitions on the use of medical marijuana in the state of California. Yet at the same time, she worked within the government to ensure government responses had people like her in mind, and took her seat at the table to represent women like her in AIDS policy and planning.
"I don't believe in violence," she says. "But I believe in aggressive activism: banners, taking over offices with civil disobedience, testifying at state budget meetings, leaving paper trails.”
She co-created an oral history project of ACT UP/LA to capture this important history of the AIDS direct action movement from 1987-1997, launched on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2021. We have no doubt that her legacy will continue to be felt for generations to come.