The U.S. Postal Service annouced Friday, April 11, that the Harvey Milk stamp will receive a White House debut on the anniversary of Milk’s birthday — May 22. A public dedication ceremony will take place in San Francisco, May 28.
A black-and-white photograph of Harvey Milk (1930-78) will be used for the central design of the forthcoming United States commemorative forever stamp honoring the San Francisco political figure and gay rights activist. The photo of Milk was taken by his friend, photographer Dan Nicoletta.
The 49 cent forever stamp will be the nation’s first honoring an American for his role in the fight for LGBT rights.
“As letters and postcards are sent across the nation and around the globe, they can now bear the face of a man, my uncle, who gave his life in the struggle for human rights to ensure equality for every minority group and marginalized community,” stated Stuart Milk, the gay nephew of Milk who co-founded the Harvey Milk Foundation, in a statement released shortly after today’s postal service announcement. “The Harvey Milk Forever Stamp, which further memorializes Harvey’s legacy of hope, is a gift to help us all remember where we’ve been and the work we still need to do.”
The White House stamp dedication ceremony with President Barack Obama, who awarded Harvey Milk a presidential honor posthumously, “comes with incredibly special significance,” added Milk.
“President Obama and his administration have provided the nation with steadfast and trendsetting leadership in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in the U.S. and abroad,” stated Milk. “May 22, Harvey Milk Day, is celebrated annually on my uncle’s birthday as an official California State holiday and is recognized in communities around the world as a day for all minority groups to collaborate on the vigilance needed to achieve fully inclusive human rights for everyone, everywhere.”
Milk was a community activist, business owner in the gay Castro district of San Francisco, and a political columnist for the B.A.R. during the 1970s. His life and that of then-Mayor George Moscone came to a tragic end on the morning of November 27, 1978 when disgruntled former supervisor, Dan White, killed the progressive politicians in City Hall.
The idea of a Milk stamp first arose in the late 1980s, when San Francisco artist Jim Leff painted a mock-up of what such a stamp could look like. In 2005, San Francisco’s 11-member Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution calling on the U.S. postmaster general to issue one for the gay rights leader. The idea began to gain momentum in 2009.