San Diego Gets the World's First Harvey Milk Street

By Diane Anderson-Minshall

Originally published on Advocate.com May 09 2012 11:07 AM ET

Yesterday the San Diego City Council unanimously voted to name a street after LGBT civil rights pioneer Harvey Milk, becoming the first city in the country to do so.

“A year ago, a group of community leaders came together around the notion the time had come to honor an LGBT civil rights leader in San Diego the same way we have given honor to other civil rights leaders  such as Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Dwayne Crenshaw, San Diego LGBT Pride Executive Director. “Today marks a symbolic and significant moment in the movement forward towards the American value of equality.”

The city will unveil the new street on what would be Milk's 62nd birthday, Tuesday, May 22. Festivities will begin at 5 p.m. at the corner of Harvey Milk Street (formerly Blaine Avenue) and Centre Street, and will include Crenshaw, several City Council members, City Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirez, Milk's nephew Stuart Milk, and Delores Jacobs, the CEO of San Diego's LGBT Community Center. 

Local activists pushed hard for the street renaming, as Milk served some of his time in the Navy as a diving instructor stationed in San Diego. After his election in 1978 as one of the world’s first openly gay elected officials — and later his assassination — symbolized for many LGBT women and men around the world the bravery it took to life life fully and honestly.

Milk has been memorialized, often in San Francisco where he made his biggest political impact, with a foundation, a civil rights academy, an LGBT educational institute, a library branch, and even a band. Now activists are pushing to have a military vessel named for him as well.