On what would
have been the slain rights leader's 78th birthday, the city
of San Francisco unveiled a monumental statue of former city
supervisor Harvey Milk in the rotunda of City Hall.
Milk, the first
openly gay person elected to prominent public office
anywhere in the United States, was a symbol of the gay
rights struggle both before and after his
assassination, along with San Francisco mayor George
Moscone, by a disgruntled fellow lawmaker in the very
building where Milk was honored Thursday.
coincided with the one-week anniversary of the California
supreme court decision triggered by San Francisco's 2004
spree of same-sex marriages, adding to the evening's
camera-shop owner in the Castro, was elected to the board of
supervisors in 1977 and shot to death the following
November, along with Moscone, by Dan White, a former
police officer who had just resigned his supervisor's
A film on Milk's
life, directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Sean Penn,
was shot in San Francisco in the spring and will be released
in the fall.
sculpted by Daub Firmin Hendrickson of Berkeley, Calif., and
based on a photograph taken by a friend, shows Milk with a
wide grin and his tie fluttering in the San Francisco
wind. It sits atop a solid granite base inscribed with
a prophetic statement he had recorded in the feeling
he might indeed be slain.
"I ask for the
movement to continue because my election gave young
people out there hope. You gotta give 'em hope," it reads.
inches high and weighing more than 200 pounds, the privately
funded sculpture has three scenes depicted in relief on the
base. One features Milk during his stint in the Navy,
another shows him riding in a Pride parade, and the
last depicts the candlelight march held the night of
The piece cost
$57,500, with another $26,500 going toward a juried design
competition, engineering, and installation, Jill Manton,
director of public art for the San Francisco Arts
Commission, told the Associated Press. The winning
design was selected from three finalists.
felt that this particular proposal captured his
vitality, his vigor, his energy," Manton told the AP.
The bust stands
in the ornate ceremonial rotunda outside the board of
supervisors chamber, a spot where couples frequently choose
to get married. Manton said she expects the bust to be
popular with City Hall visitors, especially now that
California has legalized marriage equality.
"What I've heard
from the head of the docent tours is the most
frequently asked question [by visitors] is, 'Where is the
statue of Harvey Milk?' or 'Is there anything
commemorating where he was assassinated,'" Manton
"What is going
through my head is, finally, finally, finally, he is
going to be in the place where he belongs," former aide Anne
Kronenberg told the San Francisco Chronicle.
"He's back home." (AP, with additional reporting by The