LGBT Icon Harvey Milk would have been 82 years old next Tuesday - had he not been assassinated in 1978. In 2009, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed openly gay Sen. Mark Leno's SB 572 designating every May 22 as "Harvey Milk Day." The Harvey Milk Foundation and others are holding numerous events before and on that official day, including several in Los Angeles and West Hollywood.
Today, Sacramento holds the third annual Harvey Milk Day with the Harvey Milk Foundation, the California Legislative LGBT Caucus and Equality California with a breakthrough conversation at the California Museum on the implementation and benefits of Senate Bill (SB) 48, the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act. The FAIR Act, which has been threatened with repeal by the Religious Right since it was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, requires public schools to teach LGBT history and the contributions of LGBT people. Though the law officially went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, is has not yet been fully implemented or integrated into California's public school curriculum standards, though individual schools and teachers have implemented their own programs that address LGBT history and antigay bullying and discrimination.
On Sunday May 20, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Stuart Milk, founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation and nephew of Harvey Milk, will host the 3rd Annual Harvey Milk Day of Service at Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools.
At the first commemoration in 2010, Villaraigosa pledged to honor Harvey Milk through a day of service every year to acknowledge Milk's legacy of community engagement. This year's We Serve LA" project - held in conjunction with Gay for Good, Enrich LA, FAIR, Latino Equality Alliance, UCLA Family Commons, Wilshire Center Business Improvement District, principals, teachers and students from the Los Angeles Unified School District, among others - will paint commemorative canvas murals, build two sets of edible produce gardens to be used in educating parents and students alike about nutrition and sustainability, and complete a campus wide clean up at Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools.
"Both Harvey Milk and Robert F. Kennedy believed that everyone should have equal access to opportunity," Jacqueline Olvera-Rojas, Operations Manager of the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, said in a press release. "Building edible community gardens on our campus is an opportunity for our families to be healthy and get involved." (For more information on sponsorship, volunteer opportunities, or more information, please contact the Mayor's Deputy LGBT Liaison Justin Gonzalez at Justin.Gonzalez@lacity.org or 213.978.0729. )
Also on Sunday, May 20, from 2:00-4:00p, Equality California will host an event at Bite with international LGBT Advocate and Harvey's nephew Stuart Milk, along with the slate of EQCA-endorsed candidates. Proceeds benefit EQCA PAC. Bite Restaurant, 8807 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Phone: 310 266-0502.
Stonewall Young Democrats is also holding an event at the home of Lisa Ling to benefit Youth Services at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center. (Click here for more info).
The City of West Hollywood is also hosting events.
"Perhaps more than any other modern figure, Harvey Milk's life and political career embody the rise of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights movement," West Hollywood Mayor Jeffrey Prang said in a press release. "At a time when society forced many to lead closeted lives, Harvey Milk dared to hope for a time when LGBT people could live openly, freely, equally. So, each year we celebrate the life of Harvey Milk to remind us all to embrace our diversity, and to keep alive his vision for equal rights for all."
Monday, May 21, at 6:30 p.m., during the regularly-scheduled West Hollywood City Council meeting, the book, "The Harvey Milk Story" will be presented to local West Hollywood-area elementary schools in the Council Chambers at West Hollywood Park, 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. Immediately following, a Jeff Tsuji-designed Harvey Milk banner will be unveiled.
On Tuesday, May 22, at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at West Hollywood Park, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd, there will be a panel discussion entitled "Got Milk - The Collision of the Arts & Social Justice in the Post-Harvey Milk Era." The program will feature a panel discussion moderated by Tony Valenzuela, Executive Director of the Lambda Literary Foundation and will feature special guest speakers including actor/director/playwright Peter Paige and Jon Imparato, Director of Cultural Arts at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center. Film clips from The Times of Harvey Milk will be shown, as will a student film on Milk's legacy. A dessert reception will follow the panel discussion. Please call (323) 848-6823 to RSVP for this event. Admission is free to all events. Two hours of free parking will be available in the West Hollywood Park Parking Garage with validation.
There are numerous events in other SoCal areas, including Long Beach, Orange County - and in San Diego, the city will honor Harvey Milk by dedicating the first Harvey Milk street sign.