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S.F. City Hall
Unveils Harvey Milk Tribute

S.F. City Hall
Unveils Harvey Milk Tribute

Harveymilk_statue

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.

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.

The unveiling 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 historic sheen.

Milk, a 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 seat.

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.

The bust, 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.

Standing 75 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 assassinations.

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.

"Everyone really 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 said.

"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 Advocate)

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