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Celebrate Harvey Milk Day with Hope

Born May 22, 1930, Harvey Milk is listed as one of Time magazine’s “100 most important people of the 20th century,” because he spoke out not only for LGBT people, but women, people of color and other communities living on the margins. A Naval and Korean War Veteran, Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man elected to public office; a mere eight years after the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969.

Related post: “Harvey Milk’s Birthday, a Celebration in Words and Song” 


His message of inclusion, the value of the marginalized, which he built his diverse coalition around, also help elect the first Asian American man and African American woman to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. Together they were a major force in defeating California’s “Prop. 6 Briggs’ Initiative” that mandated firing teachers for being gay.

It is striking in comparison to today’s divisive social and political rhetoric, that Harvey Milk succeeded in bringing people together by speaking of hope.  He spoke of and to the “us’s” as equal people in our communities, that the marginalized matter.  When he said, “My Name is Harvey Milk and I’m here to recruit you!” he was recruiting everyone.


On November 18, 1978, Harvey Milk made a recording to be played in the event of his assassination.  Like Abraham Lincoln, Malcom X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. before him, the gay civil rights leader and champion of equality and justice, knew what history held in store.  What Harvey Milk could not have known was his recording would be played just nine days later, when a white, Christian, anti-gay, straight, gunman would murderer him and San Francisco Mayor, George Moscone in their City Hall offices on November 27, 1978.


In 1985, The Times of Harvey Milk, narrated by Harvey Fierstein, became the first gay subject film to win an Academy Award.  The stirring documentary focuses on an ordinary man who believed in ordinary values but made extraordinary accomplishments by giving everyone hope.  It’s colorfully told by the vibrant and dedicated people who were a part of the movement and is profoundly moving.


While it is impossible to imagine what Harvey Milk might have gone on to achieve had he not been killed, it’s plain to see the lasting impact his living legacy has had on the LGBTQ Community and America as a whole.  He has received countless honors posthumously, including a Naval ship named after him; the first postal stamp recognizing an openly gay American, a critically acclaimed bio-pic; and our country’s highest honor given to a civilian, the Medal of Freedom, presented by President Obama in 2009.


In the dark and troubling times of today, Harvey Milk’s message of hope is as resonate as ever.  May his wisdom and words calling us to action give us renewed hope and give hope to others.




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Lean more at The Harvey Milk Foundation

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