Gay Rights: Candlelight Walk Organized For Harvey Milk Death Anniversary
This upcoming November 27 will be the 40th anniversary of the assassination of gay rights icon Harvey Milk. As a way to honor his memory, the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club is organizing a candlelight walk from the Harvey Milk Plaza all the way to San Francisco City Hall.
The walk echoes the same spontaneous actions that culminated in the White Night Riots that happened after the voluntary manslaughter conviction of Dan White, Milk’s killer.
The club recalled the night of that event on the Facebook Event page set up for the walk, writing: “In November of 1978, bookending the Thanksgiving holiday, the city of San Francisco and, it might be said, the world was changed forever. The double horror of the tragedy at Jonestown, followed by the slaying of Harvey Milk and George Moscone was a crushing trauma to the heart and soul of San Francisco, and yet in that darkness we rose together in candlelight not only to remember those we had lost but to strengthen and galvanize ourselves to give them voice to continue their fight and and vision for the future.”
The club also included gay rights activist Sally Miller Gearhart’s memories of that walk 40 years ago. According to Gearhart, the walk was “one of the most eloquent expressions of a community’s response to violence that I’ve ever seen, and I think that we as lesbians and gay men, and all the straight people who were marching with us that night – and there were thousands – I think we said it. I think we sent a message to the nation that night about what our immediate response was – not violence, but a certain respect for Harvey and a deep… a deep… regret and feeling of tragedy about it, because Moscone had been our friend as well.”
Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected official of California. During his 11 months as part of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Milk passed a stringent gay rights ordinance for San Francisco. He also opposed the Briggs Initiative, which would have made firing gay teachers—and any public school employees who supported gay rights—mandatory.
Milk’s life has also been adapted into the award-winning film Milk, directed by Gus Van Sant.