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San Francisco in San Francisco City and County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Harvey Milk

May 22, 1930 - November 27, 1978

 
 
Harvey Milk Marker image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, July 12, 2009
1. Harvey Milk Marker
Inscription. Harvey Milk Plaza is named in honor of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, California’s first elected official to be openly gay.

In 1975, Harvey Milk opened Castro Camera at 575 Castro Street and moved into the apartment upstairs. Harvey’s store soon became a center for politcal meetings and voter registration drives. Through his involvement in neighborhood issues, he soon became known as “The Mayor of Castro Street”.

As the influx of gay men and lesbians revitalized the neighborhood, Harvey assumed the leadership of the Castro Village Merchants Association. In 1974 he organized the original Castro Street Fair.

In January 1976, Mayor George Moscone appointed Harvey to the Board of Permit Appeals as San Francisco’s first openly gay Commissioner. In the 1977 District Election of Supervisors, Harvey was elected to the Board from this district.

Harvey Milk was a representative of a despised minority, yet his lasting triumph is that he championed the rights of all people. In his tragically short term as Supervisor, he authored San Francisco’s Gay Rights Ordinance and fought for the causes of women, the elderly, ethnic minorities, renters, environmentalists, union members and neighborhood residents. He also worked to establish district elections and improve public transit. Muni riders remember
Harvey Milk Plaza - Lower Level image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, July 12, 2009
2. Harvey Milk Plaza - Lower Level
Here the marker is visible, mounted on a column. To the left of the marker, mounted on the fence, are various pictures of Harvey Milk.
him as the first city official to use a Muni Fast Pass every day.

Harvey Milk and George Moscone were assassinated on November 27, 1978. That night 40,000 San Franciscans gathered at this site and proceeded to City Hall in a candlelight march. Harvey Milk Plaza was dedicated on September 15, 1985 by Mayor Dianne Feinstein, Board of Supervisors John L. Molinari and Harvey’s successor, Supervisor Harry Britt.

“I am all of us!”- Harvey Milk
 
Location. 37° 45.735′ N, 122° 26.136′ W. Marker is in San Francisco, California, in San Francisco City and County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Castro Street and Market Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: San Francisco CA 94114, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Rainbow Flag (here, next to this marker); Castro Street Historical Timeline (within shouting distance of this marker); Jane Addams (within shouting distance of this marker); Virginia Woolf (within shouting distance of this marker); Officer Jane Warner (within shouting distance of this marker); James Baldwin (within shouting
The Rainbow Flag as seen from the lower level of Harvey Milk Plaza image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, July 12, 2009
3. The Rainbow Flag as seen from the lower level of Harvey Milk Plaza
This Rainbow Flag was installed in November, 1997 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the election of Harvey Milk to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
distance of this marker); Tennessee Williams (within shouting distance of this marker); Oscar Wilde (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Francisco.
 
More about this marker. The marker is located on the lower level of Harvey Milk Plaza, on the left hand side of the entrance to the light rail station.
 
Regarding Harvey Milk.

• Although Milk was the first openly gay person to be elected to political office in California, he was not the first openly gay person to be elected in the US - in 1974 Kathy Kozachenko won a seat on the Ann Arbor, Michigan city council as an openly gay candidate. However, she was not the first openly gay politician to hold office in the US, as her predecessor on the same city council, Nancy Wechsler, had come out during her term on the council. And although Kozachenko may have been the first elected in the US, she was not the first openly gay candidate to run for public office - that distinction belongs to Jose Sarria, who ran for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1961, garnering a respectable 5,600 votes while losing.

• Dianne Feinstein, mentioned on the marker, was Mayor of San Francisco from 1978 to 1988. In 1992 she was elected to the US Senate as one of California's senators, and currently still holds that position. It was Feinstein who first discovered Milk's body after the shooting, being the first on the scene after hearing the gunshots.

• Harvey Milk and George Moscone were gunned down in City Hall by former city supervisor Dan White. White immediately turned himself in and confessed. Although charged with premeditated murder, a diminished capacity defense was enmployed, and White was convicted of two counts of voluntary manslaughter, receiving a sentence of seven years. White served only five years before he was released on parole. He committed suicide in 1985, less than two years after his release from prison.

• The "I am all of us!" quote came from a poem that Milk had written, found on his desk after his death, that read:

I can be killed with ease.

I can be cut right down.

But I cannot fall back into my closet.

I have grown.

I am not myself.

I am too many.

I am all of us.

 
Also see . . .
1. Gay Heroes Smackdown: Harvey Milk vs Jose Sarria. Strange de Jim's lighthearted-but-serious photographic tribute to both Harvey Milk and Jose Sarria. Includes the Harvey Milk photos that are mounted on the fence in Harvey Milk Plaza. (Submitted on July 25, 2009.) 

2. The Memorial Services. Uncle Donald's Castro Street's webpage on the memorial services held in San Francisco for George Moscone and Harvey Milk. On November 29, 1978, a memorial service for the both of them was held at City Hall, and their caskets were then put on display in the hall's rotunda, where more than 10,000 people filed by the caskets to pay their respects. (Submitted on July 25, 2009.) 

3. Moscone–Milk Assassinations. Wikipedia.org's article on Dan White's assassination of George Moscone and Harvey Milk. (Submitted on July 25, 2009.) 

4. Myth of the 'Twinkie Defense'. Caroll Pogash' examination, as it appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle(11/23/2003), of the origin and spread of the "twinkie defense", as the Dan White's diminished capacity defense came to be known. (Submitted on July 25, 2009.) 

5. S.F. plaque honoring Harvey Milk is stolen. The San Francisco Chronicle's 10/19/2011 article on the disappearance of the Harvey Milk plaque at the Castro Street Muni/BART station. (Submitted on March 29, 2012.) 
 
Additional keywords. homosexual LGBT
 
Categories. Civil RightsGovernmentNotable Persons
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 25, 2009, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 1,665 times since then and 46 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 25, 2009, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
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