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Complete Guide to Harvey Milk Day Events in Sacramento

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Background Notes

Harvey Milk was a leader in the gay rights movement who was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. This made him the nation’s first openly gay man elected to public office in a major U.S. city.

It was on November 27, 1978 when San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk were shot to death by a former city supervisor, Dan White, who had just recently resigned but changed his mind and wanted his seat back. This sent a shockwave throughout San Francisco, California, and throughout the nation when the major networks carried the story during the evening newscasts.

On October 12, 2009, Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the highly controversial bill (S.B. 572) establishing “Harvey Milk Day” to take place each May 22nd, Milk’s birthday. This makes the slain gay civil rights activist only the second person in state history – in addition to conservationist John Muir – to gain such a designation. The signing came on the heals of President Obama awarding Harvey Milk posthumously, the Presidential Medal of Freedom last August.

Though Harvey Milk Day is not a state holiday, the measure encourages schools to conduct lessons “remembering the life of Harvey Milk, recognizing his accomplishments and familiarizing pupils with the contributions he made to the state.”

Saturday, May 22, 2010 will be the first Harvey Milk Day and Equality Action Now, an all-volunteer; grassroots civil rights organization took the lead in organizing events for Sacramento. In the past, the organization hosted several large rallies at the State Capitol protesting Prop 8, the same-sex marriage bill that passed in 2008 and upheld by the State Supreme Court in 2009.

EAN leadership wanted to make sure the city wasn’t left out in providing fun, educational, and affordable events that is all-inclusive to celebrate the life and legacy of Harvey Milk. With the help of their sponsors, Badlands, Outword Magazine, Uptown Studios, Great America, California Faith for Equality, Sacramento PFLAG, Red Bull USA, Stephan’s Auto Haus, Rainbow Chamber, Sacramento International Gay Lesbian Film Festival, Equality California, B’nai Israel, A Chorus Line, and Depot, it seems they have been successful.

“Milk and Cookies” at the Crest Theater – May 19, 2010 – K Street, between 10th and 11th Streets

This special evening at the Crest Theater begins at 6:00pm with a VIP Reception. Equality Action Now invites everyone to become a VIP. Enjoy complementary wine and cookies as well as the opportunity to converse with other Harvey Milk admirers. Special guests will include Sen. Mark Leno, sponsor of SB 582, making Harvey Milk Day a “special day of significance”, and the first out gay man to be elected to the State Senate. You will also have the opportunity to speak to Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, formally a personal friend of Harvey Milk. Also, in the movie, Milk, actor Emil Hirsch played a young collage student who was befriended by Milk and was recruited to work in his Castro Street election office. That young man, Cleve Jones became a powerful AIDS and LGBT and civil rights activist. Participation in the VIP Reception will allow you to personally meet Cleve.

Beginning at 7:00pm the Crest Theater doors will open and participants will move to the main theater for a fun and educational Harvey Milk Panel Discussion. This event will start off with a performance by the Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus and “Spoken Word” artists, Jovi Radtke and C. Foster. Mark Leno, Tom Ammiano, and Cleve Jones will then speak about the life and legacy of Harvey Milk.

Beginning at 8:00pm Equality Action Now will present the screening of Gus Van Sant’s biopic movie, Milk, starring Academy Award winning actor, Sean Penn. This special one-time screening should be a highly educational event for those who didn’t see the movie the first time around and an exciting evening for those seeing it again on the big screen with a theater full of Harvey Milk admirers.

The cost of the VIP Reception, which includes the panel Discussion and special screening, is $30. Cost of attending the Panel Discussion and the movie Milk is $10. Tickets are available at Tickets.com or at the door.

NOTE: Both the Panel Discussion and movie, Milk is rated “R” – Panel Discussion entertainment for language and Milk for language, some sexual content, and brief violence. No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without Parental or Guardian permission.

Harvey Milk Day Rally and March – Saturday, May 22, 2010 – California State Capitol – West Steps – 4-6pm

Equality Action Now is happy to host this free, family-friendly event at the State Capitol on Harvey Milk’s 80th birthday. Participants will, many for the first time, experience a rally much like Harvey Milk organized in the late 1970’s. Voices from the past, present, and future are the main themes and speakers representing each will speak to the meaning Harvey Milk has for them personally.

Highlighting the entertainment portion of this event will be the traveling cast of Broadway’s A Chorus Line straight from their run at the Sacramento Community Theatre May 19-23. Cast members will perform a musical number from A Chorus Line’s, “What I Did for Love”. Additional entertainers will include Irina Rivkin, Outmusic Awards Recipient, Small Differences Woman’s Choral Ensemble, and local artists Cooper Rae, Jovi Ratke and C. Foster.

The final speaker, introduced by a young activist, will be Harvey Milk himself (Eric Baldwin) reciting excerpts from two of his inspirational and historic speeches including the highly emotional “Hope” speech. This portion of the rally will take participants back to what was going on in the late ‘70’s but is highly relevant to today and the issues many Americans still face today. At the end of his speech, Tina Reynolds, co-founder of Equality Action Now and Harvey Milk will lead participants in a march around the Capitol Building.

For this event, there will be a special children’s section close to the front so they can easily see and hear the event unfolding before them. Activities for the children will be provided. Organizers hope students of all ages have the opportunity be a part of this historic event.

Open House at the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center – May 22, 2010 – 1927 L Street, Midtown Sacramento – 6-8pm

After the Rally and March the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center will hold an Open House. Sponsored by Congregation B’nai Israel, an exhibit about Harvey Milk’s early cultural and religious life will be on display. The new Executive Director, Wendy Rae Hill and her staff will be available to speak about the current services the Center provides the community and her vision of how it can expand to be even more relevant to Sacramento and the surrounding areas it serves. This will be a great time for visitors during the Open House to learn about California’s Pride Festival here in Sacramento, volunteering opportunities and how to become a member of the Center.

Harvey Milk Day After-Party Activities – May 22, 2010 – Midtown – K Street and 21st Streets – 6-10pm

After the Rally and visiting the Gay and Lesbian Center, choose a favorite visit the Badlands or barhop to the beat of music filling the streets in celebration of California’s first Harvey Milk Day. Equality Action Now volunteers will be at the door of Badlands, Depot and Headhunters asking for donations to help cover the cost of the events.

For more information about Harvey Milk Day Events here in Sacramento visit www.EqualityActionNow.org, email info@equalityactionnow.org or call (916) 446-1082.

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