Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

BREAKING: Harvey Milk stamp to get White House debut

zne-jb-harveymilkThe long awaited Harvey Milk stamp will receive a White House debut May 22.

The U.S. Postal Service made the announcement this afternoon, Friday, April 11, confirming a report in the Bay Area Reporter last month.

In a press release, the postal service said the stamp image will be previewed at a later date and a public dedication ceremony will take place in San Francisco May 28.

It added that additional details will be forthcoming.

Linn’s Stamp News, however, had posted the image at right of the Milk stamp online, claiming it is the final design. The image appears to be taken from a photo by Dan Nicoletta, a photographer who was a friend of Milk’s.

In the original photo Milk’s hair is slightly tousled by the wind, whereas his hair appears combed in the stamp image.

In March the B.A.R. reported that San Francisco resident Branton Burke, 48, a stamp enthusiast, had created a petition on the White House website asking the postal service “to do the right thing” and schedule the issuance ceremony for Milk’s stamp in San Francisco on May 22, which is Milk’s birth date and annually designated Harvey Milk Day in California.

Burke, whose petition failed to gain traction with the public, had heard from postal sources that the ceremony was going to be at the White House that day. At the time neither the postal service nor the Harvey Milk Foundation, which has been working with the agency on the stamp, would confirm that the ceremony location and date had been finalized.

The 49 cent forever stamp will be the nation’s first to honor an American for their 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 Stuart Milk.

“President Obama and his administration have provided the nation with steadfast and trend setting 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, 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, a gay man who knew Milk, 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.

But it wasn’t until 2009, when the B.A.R. began reporting about a Facebook campaign calling for the creation of a Milk stamp, that the idea began to gain momentum. The coverage spawned a nationwide campaign urging the postal service to issue the stamp.

Four years ago the B.A.R. broke the news that the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee had contacted Milk’s family about a potential stamp. And last May the paper disclosed that leaked documents obtained by Linn’s showed the advisory committee had voted to release the Milk stamp in 2014.

— Matthew S. Bajko, April 11, 2014 @ 12:09 pm PST
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