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SF to recall Milk, Moscone at vigil

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Cleve Jones, right, led last year's candlelight march down Market Street to City Hall, which recreated the march held in 1978 following the assassinations of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Cleve Jones, right, led last year's candlelight march down Market Street to City Hall, which recreated the march held in 1978 following the assassinations of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

Forty-one years after he was gunned down inside San Francisco City Hall, the late gay Supervisor Harvey Milk continues to inspire new generations of LGBT people. Emmy winner Lena Waithe, an actor, writer, and producer, recently disclosed how powerful it was for her to marry her longtime partner, Alana Mayo, beside a bust of Milk inside the municipal building.

"It was a humbling day to marry someone so amazing but also to appreciate all of the work that so many people have put in for us to be able to do that," Waithe told the singer John Legend on a recent episode of Ellen DeGeneres' daytime talk show he was guest hosting.

Milk made political history in November 1977 by becoming the first out politician of a major American city, and the first in California, after winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. It was his third time seeking the political office, and his victory was helped by the city deciding the year prior that supervisors should be elected by district rather than citywide.

Tragically, Milk and then-mayor George Moscone were assassinated the morning of November 27, 1978 by disgruntled former supervisor Dan White. Mourners marched by candlelight that evening from the Castro to City Hall to remember the fallen progressive leaders.

Ever since a march and vigil has been held annually the night of November 27 to honor Milk and Moscone. Attendance varies depending on when the anniversary falls, the weather, and if it is a milestone year, such as last year's 40th observance.

With this year's date falling on the night prior to Thanksgiving, and rain in the forecast, organizers are expecting a small turnout. They have also scaled back the event this year anticipating that many people will be out of town visiting their families for the holiday.

"It is going to be the orphans sticking around and marching this year. If it is raining, it might not be as large, but I will absolutely be there," said Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club President Kevin Bard, whose political group oversees the yearly planning of the event.

The "41 — Remembering Harvey Milk & George Moscone" vigil and march will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Harvey Milk Plaza above the Castro Muni Station at Castro and Market streets. A roughly 10-minute audio-visual program featuring archival footage of Milk and Moscone will be projected onto the commercial building fronting the public plaza, according to organizers.

Attendees will then march two blocks to where Milk had his photo business Castro Camera at 575 Castro Street. (It now houses the store and action center for national LGBT advocacy organization the Human Rights Campaign.)

Several speakers will then address those gathered. Gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who holds what is considered to be Milk's board seat, is expected to make remarks.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own candles and flowers with them. Photographer Dan Nicoletta, a close friend of Milk's, has provided several of his historic images of Milk and Moscone to the Milk club so that people can reproduce them on their own and carry them in memoriam at the event.

The images can be downloaded online at http://www.milkclub.org/

For more information about the event, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/420725575506622/

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