- NAME: Harvey Milk
- OCCUPATION: Activist, Political Leader
- BIRTH DATE: May 22, 1930
- DEATH DATE: November 27, 1978
- EDUCATION: New York State College for Teachers in Albany, Bayshore High School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Woodmere, New York
- PLACE OF DEATH: San Francisco, California
- Nickname: "Mayor of Castro Street"
- Full Name: Harvey Bernard Milk
- AKA: Harvey Milk
Best Known For
Harvey Milk became one of the first openly gay officials in the United States in 1977, when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Tragically, he was killed the following year.
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Born in New York in 1930, gay rights activist and community leader Harvey Milk made history when he became one of the first openly gay officials in the United States in 1977, when he was elected to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors. He was tragically shot and killed the following year, and numerous books and films have been made about his life.
"All men are created equal. No matter how hard you try, you can never erase those words."
"Hope will never be silent."
"I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living."
Harvey Milk was born on May 22, 1930, in Woodmere, New York. Reared in a small middle class Jewish family, Milk was one of two boys born to William and Minerva Milk. A well-rounded, well-liked student, Milk played football and sang in the opera at Bayshore High School. Like his brother, William, he also worked at the family department store, "Milks."
After graduating from high school in 1951, Milk joined the U.S. Navy, ultimately serving as a diving instructor at a base in San Diego, California, during the Korean War. Following his discharge in 1955, Milk moved to New York City, where he worked a variety of jobs, including as a public school teacher, production associate for several high-profile Broadway musicals, stock analyst and Wall Street investment banker. He soon tired of finance, though, and befriended gay radicals who frequented Greenwich Village.
In late 1972, bored with his life in New York, Milk moved to San Francisco, California. There, he opened a camera shop called Castro Camera on Castro Street, putting his life and work right in the heart of the city's gay community.
For much of his life, Milk had stayed quiet about his personal life. He had known since high school that he was gay, and even in the wake of an emerging gay rights movement, the deliberate and careful Milk chose to remain on the sidelines. But things had started to turn for him toward the end of his time in New York, as he befriended a number of gay radicals who frequented Greenwich Village.
In San Francisco, his life and outspoken politics evolved even further. As Castro Camera increasingly became a neighborhood center, Milk found his voice as a leader and activist. In 1973, he declared his candidacy for a position on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. A novice politician with little money, Milk lost the election, but the experience did not deter him from trying again. Two years later, he narrowly lost a second election for the same seat. By then, Milk had become a political force; an outspoken leader in the gay community with political connections that included San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, Assembly speaker and future city mayor Willie Brown, and future United States Senator Dianne Feinstein.
In 1977, Milk, who was known affectionately as the "Mayor of Castro Street," finally won a seat on the San Francisco City-County Board. He was inaugurated on January 9, 1978, becoming the city's first openly gay officer, as well as one of the first openly gay individuals to be elected to office in the United States.
While his campaign certainly incorporated gay rights into his platform, Milk also wanted to tackle a wide variety of issues, from child care to housing to a civilian police review board.
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