In 1977, a charismatic camera store owner named Harvey Milk won a seat on the San Francisco board of directors. The triumph made him the first openly gay man to be elected to a public office in the state of California and one of the first openly gay people to hold public office throughout America. Though it was a local race, Milk had a nationwide impact on the LGBTQ rights movement – both in life and in death.
1. As a young man, Harvey Milk worked on Wall Street – and on Broadway.
Harvey Milk was a man with many interests. Milk was born on May 22, 1930 in Woodmere, New York. He loved opera, played several sports, and wrote columns for school newspapers at his alma mater, the New York College for Teachers (now known as SUNY Albany). After graduating from the 1
2. The Vietnam War changed Harvey Milk's political ideology.
When Milk won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Directors in 1977, he ran as a Democrat. But his earlier forays into politics were on the other side of the aisle. More than a decade earlier, Milk had been hired to work on Republican Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign. It was the Vietnam War that changed politics. "The day Nixon invaded Cambodia was the day I had to speak out against war profiteers, large companies, etc.," Milk told NBC News in 1978. "So I got rid of my career on Wall Street … and when I went through that." I went on door. "
3. Harvey Milk became known as the "Mayor of Castro Street".
When Milk shaped San Francisco's Castro Street, the famous street – and the surrounding neighborhood – had already become a hub for the city's gay community. In 1973, Milk and his then partner Castro Camera opened a small photo development shop that developed into a meeting point in the neighborhood. Milk used the store as an election campaign center during all of his public tenders, which ultimately earned him the nickname "The Mayor of Castro Street".
4. Harvey Milk and the San Francisco Teamsters union worked together to organize a beer boycott.
In 1973, half a dozen major beer dealers jointly refused to hire union truck drivers. The following summer, Allan Baird of the San Francisco Teamsters Union Milk asked to convince the city's gay bars to take part in a mass boycott of these companies. Milk happily agreed and said, "If we in the gay community want others to help us fight discrimination, we have to help others in their struggles." With Milk's help, San Francisco gay bars have blacklisted distributors set and caused five of them to reverse their stance on union drivers.
5. Harvey Milk was not the only LGBTQ politician to succeed in the 1970s.
Milk's political success did not take place overnight. Prior to the 1977 elections, Milk had previously had two unsuccessful campaigns for a San Francisco board of directors and was unable to be elected as a California State MP. However, Milk was not the first open member of the LGBTQ community to win an American election. This honor goes to Kathy Kozachenko, who was elected to the Ann Arbor, Michigan City Council in 1974. Then came Elaine Noble, the first openly gay candidate to hold a nationwide position in the United States. She received this award when she joined the M. General Assembly of Massachusetts in 1975.
6. Harvey Milk helped kill a government initiative that would have banned LGBTQ teachers.
After taking office on January 8, 1978, Milk quickly threw himself into the fight against California Proposition 6. Better known as "the Briggs Initiative" The measure was championed by Senator John Briggs of Orange County. If it were over, the public schools in California should have fired all gay and lesbian teachers, assistants, advisors, and administrators from their jobs. Milk not only publicly discussed Briggs about the measure, but also asked then President Jimmy Carter to condemn it. When the Californians went to the poll in November, the initiative was rejected with a lead of more than 1 million votes.
7. Dog droppings gave Harvey Milk a headache.
"I don't want to put anyone in prison, I don't want to punish anyone." I just want to clear up the mess, ”Milk told San Francisco's KQED News in 1978. He sponsored a bill that imposed fees of $ 10 or more on dog owners in the region who didn't restrain their pets. The Milk ordinance, which the future mayor (and current US senator) Dianne Feinstein called the Scoop the Poop Act, was unanimously approved by the board.
8. Harvey Milk was murdered by a colleague in the town hall.
Former fireman and policeman Dan White was another newcomer to the board who was elected on the same day as Milk. The two superiors seemed to get on well at first, but after Milk decided to open a facility for troubled youth in White's district, things got bad. White later resigned from the board, citing financial issues and other concerns. Then, in an abrupt turn, White asked Mayor George Moscone to restore him to the position he had just left. The mayor ultimately declined.
Moscone's decision was influenced by some of the more liberal board members, including Milk, who opposed White's reappointment. On November 27, 1978, White – armed with a 38 revolver – climbed through a cellar window in the town hall. Once inside, he killed Moscone, reloaded his gun, and killed milk.
9. The trial of Harvey Milk's murderer led to the "White Night Riots".
Although he killed two high-ranking officials, White was never charged with murder. Instead, he was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, a minor offense that sentenced him to a seven-year, eight-month prison term. When they felt that White had escaped justice, about 5,000 demonstrators marched on the town hall. What followed were the so-called "White Night Riots" of May 21, 1978, in which 124 demonstrators and 59 police officers were injured as a result of the controversial outcome of the trial. (Dan White: He committed suicide on October 21, 1985, less than two years after he was released from prison.)
10. The U.S. Navy named a ship in honor of Harvey Milk.
The name of Milk now adorns a New York high school, an airport terminal in San Francisco and street signs on the west coast. And then there is the USNS Harvey Milk an oiler for replenishment under construction. Milk himself had served in the Navy before being forced to resign because of his homosexuality.
“The naming of this ship after Harvey Milk is an appropriate tribute to a man who had been at the forefront of civil and human rights. Former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in 2016 about the ship's namesake.