“Harvey paved the way for me”

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Minutes after Mayor Biskupski installed the first “Harvey Milk Blvd.” street sign at 900 South and 800 East, a television news reporter asked her to reflect on the celebrated San Francisco politician and gay rights activist who was assassinated in 1978.

“Harvey paved the way for me,” the Mayor said.

She pointed to Milk’s dedication to his constituents, his pride in serving as one of the country’s first openly gay elected leaders, and his commitment to full equality for LGBT people. “Harvey’s work helped us get to where we are today. I’ve walked a similar path. I’ll always be grateful for his legacy.”

The Mayor became Utah’s first openly gay elected official when she was voted into the state Legislature in 1997. She served there through 2011, and was elected Salt Lake City’s first gay mayor in November 2015. Throughout her career, she has mentored many others in the LGBT community in politics and public service.

The May 13 street sign installation came as a result of the Salt Lake City Council’s unanimous vote to rename 900 South for the slain leader. On May 14, a full celebration of the street renaming took place in the 9th and 9th neighborhood, sponsored by Equality Utah and with support from local businesses. Mayor Biskupski, City Council Member Stan Penfold, NAACP Salt Lake Branch President Jeanetta Williams, State Senator Jim Dabakis, Latino Community Activist Archie Archuletta, and Harvey Milk’s nephew, Stuart Milk, headlined the day on the speaker’s podium. Stuart Milk is co-founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation.

Meanwhile, the Salt Lake City streets team are installing additional Harvey Milk Boulevard signs all along 900 South went about installing additional Harvey Milk Boulevard signs along 900 South between 900 West and 1100 East.

Harvey Milk was a New York native who made history as one of the first openly gay political leaders in the United States, after his election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. In the early ‘70s, he opened his business, Castro Camera, in the heart of the city’s famed gay district, the Castro. The shop soon became a lively neighborhood hub, with Milk leading many causes for gay rights. After three tries at a seat on the Board of Supervisors, Milk finally won a post in 1977.

His life ended tragically on November 27, 1978, after fellow Supervisor Dan White first shot to death San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, then moved down a corridor and turned his handgun on Milk. White served six years in prison for the homicides. In 1985, one year after his release, White committed suicide.

Milk was memorialized in the feature film, “Milk” with actor Sean Penn in the title role.

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