Nation Celebrates Harvey Milk Stamp
Respected political leaders gathered at the White House last Thursday to unveil a new U.S. postage stamp commemorating slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk, while on the same day political leaders, activists and celebrities gathered on the other side of the country in San Fran for the same purpose.
The first-day-of-issue dedication took place on what would have been Milk’s 84th birthday. The "forever" stamp bears an iconic image of Milk taken in 1977 in front of Castro Street Camera in San Francisco.
In San Fran an enthusiastic crowd of about one hundred gathered at Harvey Milk Plaza in the heart of the city’s iconic gay neighborhood "The Castro." Forty-two years earlier, Milk gave his first political speech only a few feet away from where the group stood.
It was the second year in a row the White House held a ceremony for Harvey Milk Day, which takes place annually on May 22. Last year, it recognized the achievements of elected and appointed lesbian and gay officials across the country.
Last week’s White House event featured many speakers, including Stuart Milk, cofounder of the Harvey Milk Foundation and Harvey’s nephew, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).
"He said his victory signaled a green light to all those who feel disenfranchised, a green light to move forward and that the doors are open to everyone," Pelosi said. "Thanks to Harvey, our society is better forever. Together, we’ll finish the work Harvey started."
While in San Fran the man that now holds Milk’s former council seat, openly gay Supervisor Scott Wiener, said "The unveiling wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t have a down home celebration in the Castro. It’s where Harvey is from. We’ve made so much progress: marriage equality, repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, it’s so important to have visibility."
Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia), a veteran of the civil rights movement, noted at the White House that Milk’s activism came during one of the last social revolutions in American history.
"The tiny ripples that began more than 40 years ago began a tidal wave that swept through the Supreme Court and the nation, liberating gay couples in states around the country," Lewis said. "So, thank you, Harvey Milk."
Perhaps the most engaging talk at the White House was delivered by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Powers, echoing the theme Milk himself became known for, ’ hope and change.’
Cleve Jones, a long time activist and personal friend of Milk’s, and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black also showed up to the San Fran ceremony.