Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk was a gay rights activist, and the first openly gay man elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Randy Shilts’ biography The Mayor of Castro Street and Rob Epstein’s film The Times of Harvey Milk document Milk’s political rise within the context of the development of the LGBT community. Like Harry Hay and Barbara Grier, Harvey Milk was an individual whose personal life shaped his professional career. His drive to represent a group of people who had been silenced and ignored made him a figure of national and international standing. Milk became a visible symbol of the LGBT community’s emergence as a political force. It is no wonder, then, that the grief caused by the assassinations of Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone by Dan White unified the LGBT community as never before. The lenient sentence that White received for the double murder resulted in a riot at San Francisco City Hall. Daniel Nicoletta’s photographs of the White Night riots powerfully capture the sheer force of the community’s outrage.

Daniel Nicoletta “The Empress Coronation”
Daniel Nicoletta
The Empress Coronation
Gelatin silver print
Former Empress José Sarria, Harvey Milk and Mavis, presenting an anonymous donation for the purchase of uniforms for the 1st Gay and Lesbian Freedom Marching Band, 1978.

Headline announcing Harvey Milk’s assassination
San Francisco Examiner, 1978
Headline announcing Harvey Milk’s assassination
Elva Smith, mother of Milk’s partner Scott Smith, donated the Harvey Milk Archives/Scott Smith Collection to the Hormel Center in 1996. The collection contains the personal and political papers of Milk, the personal papers of Scott Smith, and the collection of the Harvey Milk Archives and the Harvey Milk Estate. Milk’s political papers include hand-edited drafts of his speeches, such as his famous 1977 speech "You’ve Got to Give ’em Hope," and his writings, office files, appointment books, and related ephemera from his campaigns.