Family, admirers and political leaders gathered at the White House in Washington on Thursday to unveil a new U.S. postage stamp commemorating slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk.
The first-day-of-issue dedication took place on what would have been Milk’s 84th birthday. The “forever” stamp bears an iconic image of Milk taken in 1977 in front of Castro Street Camera in San Francisco.
In California, where May 22 is Harvey Milk Day, the stamps were “selling briskly,” a post office spokesman told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Close to a dozen speakers, including Stuart Milk, cofounder of the Harvey Milk Foundation and Harvey’s nephew, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), helped unveil the stamp at the White House ceremony.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia), a veteran of the civil rights movement, noted that Milk’s activism came during one of the last social revolutions in American history.
“The tiny ripples that began more than 40 years ago began a tidal wave that swept through the Supreme Court and the nation, liberating gay couples in states around the country,” Lewis said. “So, thank you, Harvey Milk."
Milk was a beloved champion of equal rights for the gay community in San Francisco and across the nation. He became the first openly gay public official in California when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.
He was assassinated a year later alongside then-Mayor George Moscone on Nov. 27, 1978.
At Thursday’s dedication, Pelosi recalled Milk’s words after he won a seat on the board of supervisors.
“He said his victory signaled a green light to all those who feel disenfranchised, a green light to move forward and that the doors are open to everyone,” Pelosi said. “Thanks to Harvey, our society is better forever. Together, we’ll finish the work Harvey started."
The stamp is available for purchase online.