Harvey Milk: Biography, Career, Personal Life

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Harvey Milk: Biography, Career, Personal Life
Harvey Milk: Biography, Career, Personal Life

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Harvey Milk is an American politician who won the elections to the state government in 1978, the first open representative of sexual minorities who have not previously held public office in the United States.

Harvey Milk
Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk's childhood

Harvey Bernard Milk was born on May 22, 1930 in Woodmere, New York, the son of Lithuanian Jews William Milk and Minerva Karnes. Harvey's grandfather, Morris Milk, was the owner of a department store and one of the founders of the first synagogue in their area. Harvey was the youngest son in the family, his older brother was named Robert. As a child, Harvey was often teased for ridiculously protruding ears, a large nose, an awkward lanky figure and oversized feet, but the boy, who had an innate sense of humor, coped with it and gained a reputation as the best comedian in the class. At school, he played football and fell in love with opera.

Youth politician

After graduating from high school in 1947, Harvey entered the New York State Teachers College in Albany (today it is New York University in Albany) and graduated in 1951 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. During his studies, Milk worked for the student newspaper and earned a reputation as an outgoing and friendly student. None of his friends in school or college had any idea that he was a minority. One of his fellow practitioners recalled that Harvey always looked like a 'real man'.

Service

After college, Milk enlisted in the Navy and went to the Korean War. He served in a submarine, was a military diver, and when he returned to his homeland, he became a scuba diving instructor at a military base. In 1955, Harvey retired from his service as a lieutenant and began teaching at a school on Long Island.

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Harvey Milk's political career

Milk was not interested in politics or the struggle for the rights of the LGBT community until almost forty years old. Milk began his active social and political activities when his views and lifestyle underwent significant changes under the influence of political events in the country and his participation in the countercultural movement of the 1960s. In his campaign, Milk focused on supporting small businesses and developing the area, which ran counter to the policies of the then mayor, Alioto, who, since 1968, tried to attract large corporations to the city.

In 1972 he moved to San Francisco from New York and settled in the Castro area. In the wake of the growth of political influence and economic recovery in Castro County, Milk was repeatedly nominated for elected office, but was defeated three times. Milk's incendiary, flamboyant speeches and his ability to captivate the public earned him significant press coverage during the 1973 election.

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In 1974, in order to attract more customers to his area, Milk organized the Castro Street Fair, which attracted more than 5,000 people. Some of the conservative EVMA members were stunned - they made such profits during the Castro Street Fair that they had never had before. Subsequently, the fair became an annual event in the life of San Francisco, which today attracts hundreds of merchants and many thousands of visitors.

Although Milk was still a newcomer to the Castro area, he had already established himself as the leader of this small community. He became more serious about the prospects for his election and in 1975 decided to run again for the municipal supervisory board. Milk's campaign was now supported by drivers, firefighters, and construction workers. His photo shop, Castro Camera, has become an activist center in the area. Often Milk simply invited people from the street, involving them in his election campaign, many of them later found that Milk simply found them attractive.

In 1977, his boisterous and artistic campaigns gained him more and more popularity, and Milk was elected a member of the municipal supervisory board.Milk's swearing-in on January 8, 1978 became mainstream headlines as he became the first openly gay man with no previous government office in the United States to win a government election. Milk likened himself to African American baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson, who ended racial discrimination in American professional sports in the 1940s.

Milk was destined to serve as a member of the Supervisory Board of San Francisco for only 11 months.

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The murder of Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk was killed on the job, in the city hall by five shots at point-blank range - on November 27, 1978. His former colleague on the Supervisory Board, Dan White, made his way into the mayor's office with a gun and shot first the mayor, George Moscone, who refused to return White to the seat on the Supervisory Board, which he had refused a little earlier, and then Harvey Milk, spending on each of his former colleagues five rounds each. Over the next hour, Dan White called his wife, who was dining nearby. She met him at church and escorted White to the police, where he confessed to shooting Moscone and Milk, but refused to admit that he did so on purpose.

On May 21, 1979, a court ruled that White did not commit first-degree homicide, but he was found guilty of manslaughter on both victims. His killer received only seven years in prison for his crimes and was released ahead of schedule. However, his wife and children could not forgive and accept him, and White committed suicide in 1985.

The murders of Milk and Moscone and White's trial led to changes in San Francisco's urban politics and California legal system. In 1980, San Francisco stopped electing city councilors from individual counties, believing that such a conflicting composition of the Observer Council harmed the city and was one of the factors in the tragedy.

Awards and honors politician

  • Harvey Milk's perseverance led to the city's enactment of gay rights law and an attempt to pass a discriminatory amendment to California's law was thwarted.
  • Time magazine listed Milk as one of the 100 "most prominent personalities of the 20th century," Harvey Milk was named after a square and an arts center, a high school and a public library, films and theatrical productions were devoted to him, and many books have been written about him.
  • In 2002, Milk was recognized as "the most famous and most significant openly LGBT politician ever elected in the United States."
  • On July 30, 2009, President Barack Obama awarded Harvey Milk the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously.
  • A feature film about Milk's life was released in 2008 after 15 years of unsuccessful attempts to realize the idea of ​​its creation. In this film, directed by Gus Van Sant, the role of Milk is played by Sean Penn, and the role of his killer, Dan White, is Josh Brolin. The film won two Oscars: Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay.
  • On October 13, 2009, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law the Harvey Milk Day. From now on, Milk's birthday on May 22 has become the official annual holiday of the state of California.
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Personal life

He had several novels in his life, the longest relationship lasted six years. He moved several times and changed direction of work - insurance business, Wall Street - but then returned to New York. Each time, Harvey was forced to keep his personal life in the strictest confidence from family and colleagues. This was hard.

Harvey Milk was cremated and his ashes were divided into parts. Most of the ashes were scattered over the San Francisco Bay, his closest friends. Another part was placed in a capsule and buried under the sidewalk 575 of the house on Castro Street, where his photographic store "Castro Camera" was located.

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