Quotes from the Harvey Milk Blvd celebration

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Mayor Jackie Biskupski

“Harvey never wanted to be the last of his kind, and he wasn’t. I am here today because of  people like Harvey. He was a hero of mine — somebody I looked up to and who truly inspired me.

When I stood on the floor of the Utah House of Representatives, representing this diverse city, in 1998, it was because Harvey Milk paved the way and did the leg work so it would be possible for people like me to represent this great community.

Harvey said, “Ya gotta give them hope.” And that is what this is about today. Every time people walk this street, it will give people hope that we will truly be equal one day. The work needs to continue.

Like Rosa Parks Blvd., Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., and Cesar Chavez Blvd., Harvey Milk Blvd. doesn’t just celebrate one person. It celebrates a movement. A movement in pursuit of justice and equality — core values of this city and this country.

Jeanetta Williams, president of the Salt Lake Chapter of the NAACP

When there were separate bathrooms — colored and whites — the NAACP stood up and we won that battle. We are going to win this one as well.

On Tuesday, the NAACP and others across the nation will celebrate  Brown v. Board of Education. And the reason they didn’t want that to happen was because they didn’t want the brown kids in the bathrooms with the white kids. But again, we won that battle, and we’re going to win this one too.

Dr. Forrest Crawford, Co-founder of the Martin Luther King Commission

“Hope is never silent.” That is one of Harvey Milk’s greatest quotes. When Harvey Milk spoke those words, he knew he and his contemporaries were in the middle of a battle to define the future of a community. He know it was more than about what his future and his community’s future should look like, but what the future of America should look like.

Archie Archuleta, former president of the board, Utah Coalition of La Raza

The naming of Harvey Milk Blvd. is another thread in the fabric for the struggle for social justice and equality in Salt Lake City, Utah and the U.S.A. — nay, in the world.The thread joins and strengthens the other threads that were begun by many different groups and movements, starting with the abolitionists. Going on, with the suffragette movement, and going on to the battle for liberation by blacks, Chicanos, Native Americans and Asians. And, of course, this big one, LGBTQ. You have suffered the indignities and the sting of racism, ethnocentrism, as well as the ugly one — homophobia. We fought it together and we will continue to fight it.

The furious, savage attack on anything to do with LGBTQ social and physical justice is ugly and continues apace. Now we’re fighting over toilets.

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah

Harvey was the man who told us to stand for hope. Harvey was the man who told us to come out of the closets and into the streets, Harvey was the man who gave his live so that the closet doors could be shattered forever. The brilliance about Harvey Milk was that it was never about him. When he won public office, he said, “My victory is yours, and yours, and yours. And that is how the movement is. Harvey Milk Blvd. is here because of you. We passed a nondiscrimination bill last year because of you. We brought marriage equality to this state because of you. You live your life out loud. You open people’s hearts and minds, then the law follows.

If Harvey were here today, he would tell us the work is not done. In fact, we may be entering into one of the most critical times of our movement because we are facing the backlash of our success. And there is a human cost. The last few months we have been dealing with obituaries of young, LGBT kids who can’t see for themselves a positive future. They look forward i their lives and they see no place for them. Harvey Milk Boulevard must be a beacon of hope for them. It’s a street, it’s a symbol. But more than that, we, all of us, me, and you and you and you, we must be a positive beacon of hope to all kids, all marginalized youth. We must show them that there is a positive future.

This battle is not over and we are facing a backlash as never before across the nation.

Lucas Fowler, Transgender Advocates of Utah

Kids have it really hard. They face bullying for things as simple as a different name, or a skin color that doesn’t match their peers’, or that they have a disability. As long as bathrooms are an issue, this opens them up to more harassment, and more bullying and more discrimination. Trans kids really just want to use the bathroom in peace. This movement and the Obama administration represent a first. This is the first time a president has stood up and declared a transgender student can use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. This is the same right that their peers have. But then, Gov. Herbert has to open his mouth. Gov. Herbert is willing to throw the trans kids to the bullies. He’s going to open them up to more harassment and discrimination. What he said yesterday is that he’s willing to fight this order. He’s willing to fight the president so that trans kids have to use the wrong bathroom and to make sure they can be bullied? I’m calling bullshit on that.

What this means for us is that our fight is not over. We won Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and we won marriage equality, and that is great. And we have this Harvey Milk Boulevard to gather on. But as long as Gov. Herbert wants to check our kids’ genitals at the bathroom doors, those kids are not safe.

I want all kids to hear the message that Harvey Milk said to them, the same message Barack Obama and [U.S. Attorney General] Loretta Lynch said, he said he wants all young people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity to have a safe and supportive environment to achieve their full potential. That’s what we all want.

Utah Sen. Jim Dabakis

If Harvey Milk were here today, with his megaphones, he would be saying to you, “Will you protect the children of Utah?” Will you be there with that 7-year-old from Ogden who goes to school every day and throws up because that child knows what is going to happen to him?

Will you be there for those children from Logan and Vernal and from St. George and from Ephraim? They need you because there’s nobody else there for them.

When we have a governor who looks at Utah school children who are being bullied, whose lives are living hell, 7-, 8-, 9-year-old Utah school children, and says, “If I don’t kick that child, I’ill at least hold the coat of the bullies that are.” Because you cannot stand against allowing children to be comfortable in doing the most basic bodily functions in a school and call yourself a Christian.

There is only one thing between us and those children continuing to have a life of living hell, and that is activism — that is speaking out, that is voting, that is joining Equality [Utah], that is having a voice, that means getting out more than just a Pride and at Harvey Milk Day, it means every day being involved. We can change this state. We can make way for a governor and for mayors and for city councils that are looking to all the people and not in a primary, to just be looking to appease a small group of crazy people.

I beg you: get involved, vote, donate, volunteer. You can change this state. That’s what Harvey Milk would say. Because f you don’t change it, it’s not changing.

Stan Penfold, City Council member who spearheaded the street naming.

You should look around here today and notice with [political] candidates are here. Because you probably want to talk to them, and you probably want to vote for them.

Salt Lake City is not what people expect. Have you ever traveled and were asked where you are from, and you say, “Salt Lake City,” and you get that look? And they might even ask you , “How can you live there?” Salt Lake City is not what people expect. We are the first city in the state of Utah with LGBT nondiscrimination [laws]. We are the first city to get employment and housing [protection laws]. We are first in gay marriage locally and nationally in the courts. You know, we’re first! Salt Lake City is not what people expect.

When I was growing up in a little town in California, I believed, at 16, that I was somehow flawed. There was something wrong with me, and I searched and searched for someone who looked like me. Somebody who I could see that represented who I was, and I found no one.  Today we like to think that we live in a world where being out is normal and okay. But, I guarantee you somewhere, out there, in a small, little Utah town or maybe just down this street, there is a kid who thinks they are flawed. And they are looking around, trying to find, desperately, someone who looks like them. Salt Lake City is not what people expect. You are not what people expect. You are very peculiar (laughter from crowd). You can be that person who looks like someone like them.

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