GSA Network Blog

Happy Harvey Milk Day!

 

Harvey Milk Day is today, May 22, 2012! After two legislative tries and the 2008 release of the movie Milk, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed to establish May 22 as Harvey Milk Day. Now, California governors are required to annually proclaim May 22 as Harvey Milk Day and encourage public schools and educational institutions to commemorate the date.

As last year’s passage of the FAIR Education Act confirmed, California students should learn about diverse voices in history and the contributions of many different types of people. Harvey Milk Day is a perfect opportunity to explore one aspect of that history – the contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Californians.

How will you share Milk’s story? This is your time to celebrate Harvey Milk’s legacy with your GSA, peers, and school. GSA Network has lots of resources below to help you organize a kick-ass Harvey Milk Day. But first YOU need to learn the history!

Harvey Milk was an activist, organizer, and the first openly gay man elected to public office in the country as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the late 1970s. He started out by organizing against the discrimination of gay and lesbian business owners in San Francisco’s Castro District and against the Briggs Initiative, which would have banned LGBT teachers from working in California schools. Staying true to his passion for human rights throughout his eleven months in office, Milk formed coalitions with labor unions, people of color organizations and straight politicians to defeat Proposition 6, which sought to further criminalize youth, immigrants, and low-income Californians. He went on to fight for the rights of workers to fair pay and working conditions, free public transportation, and more help for families with children. He called for an end to police brutality in San Francisco and encouraged the development of a board of civilians to oversee the police.

This inspirational LGTB activist’s life was cut short when he and San Francisco Mayor Goerge Moscone were assassinated by a former San Francisco Board of Supervisors member. Upon news of the tragedy, tens of thousands of people lit up the streets of San Francisco during a candlelight vigil to honor the lives and contributions both individuals.

Inform & Mobilize:

  • Have an LGBT teach-in! Take over the cafeteria or study hall and teach about Harvey Milk and other LGBT leaders.
  • Create a poster campaign for your school (you can use the LGBT History Month site at www.lgbthistorymonth.com for more information). Make posters highlighting Harvey Milk and bring attention to other figures in the LGBT and other civil rights movements.
  • Make buttons, stickers, or t-shirts expressing support for Harvey Milk and the LGBT community.
  • Write an article for your school paper about Harvey Milk and what his story means to you.
  • Collaborate with other groups on campus to commemorate "forgotten" activists that contributed to social justice work. This can be a joint meeting of education and awareness shared amongst the groups. What an excellent way to build allies!

If you want to learn more about Harvey Milk and organizing a wonderful day of action on May 22, 2012, check out GSA Network’s Harvey Milk Day events page. And we want to know how you're celebrating -- tell us in the comments!

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