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    A New Progressive Era with Inspiration from Milk, Moscone

    By Peter Gallotta–

    This year, San Franciscans will gather once again to remember Supervisor Harvey Milk and George Moscone. November 27, 2018, marks the 40th anniversary of their shocking murders at City Hall. It was a day that many San Franciscans will never forget and it changed the course of history.

    On November 27 at 5 pm, the Castro Theatre will host a free screening of the Oscar-winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk. At 7 pm, there will be a memorial vigil at Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro organized by the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club and featuring District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, labor leaders, and contemporaries of Milk. Afterwards, we will march, with candles, to City Hall, where there will be additional community reflections.   

    The new Democratic and progressive wave—locally and nationally—would be wise to heed the example of Moscone and Milk’s leadership. As progressive elected leaders, they challenged the status quo and moneyed interests, and brought together communities at the intersection of identities and issues. That’s how they built political power and created change, by pushing San Francisco to become the modern, progressive city that it is today.

    40 years later, it’s a reminder that whom we elect still matters. If hope must never be silent, neither can we be demanding the kind of government and leadership that we deserve. Power concedes nothing without a demand.

    To everyone who phone banked, canvassed, volunteered, and turned out to vote on November 6—thank you. We demanded better as a city and as a country. Let’s march together on November 27 to remind the world that Moscone and Milk live on. They paved the way, and a new progressive era has begun.

    Peter Gallotta is a 30-something LGBT political activist holding on to the city that he loves thanks to rent control and two-for-one happy hour specials. He is a former President of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club and currently serves as an appointed member of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee and an elected delegate to the California Democratic Party.


    Rink Photo Throwback

    On the evening of November 27, 1978, following the assassinations of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone, an estimated 25,000–40,000 mourners formed a spontaneous candlelight march from Castro Street to City Hall. Rink, a friend of Milk’s, was there to capture this somber and unforgettable moment in our city’s history.

    It is hard to convey the shock and grief that were felt upon learning of the deaths. As the faces in this photo show, the marchers were stunned, with the horrific news not even having been fully processed yet. It is a testament to our community’s resilient spirit that such a march even took place at all. Instead of mourning the losses alone, residents turned to their friends and other loved ones, desiring to be with others and to honor the losses in a shared, public way.

    Stephen Torres of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club shared, “The double horror of Jonestown, followed by the slaying of Harvey Milk and George Moscone, was a crushing trauma to the heart and soul of San Francisco, and yet in that darkness we rose together in candlelight not only to remember those we had lost but to strengthen and galvanize ourselves to continue their fight and vision.”

    A candlelight vigil has taken place on November 27 ever since, with this year marking the 40th anniversary. Let’s help to make it one of the largest remembrances ever of Milk and Moscone. Please consider joining Rink and others at 7 pm on November 27 at Harvey Milk Plaza to, as Torres says, “mark this 40 years in the same simplicity of the candlelight vigil” that was held in 1978.