More than a memorial

Annual march marking Milk and Moscone assassinations focuses on progressive organizing

Sup. Harvey Milk, left, and Mayor George Moscone in 1977.
AP photo

When Mayor George Moscone and Sup. Harvey Milk were assassinated in their City Hall offices on Nov. 27, 1978, San Francisco changed in innumerable ways. Among those ways is the city lost two of the leading progressive advocates for renters and affordable housing ever elected here.

Today, as San Franciscans mark this tragedy with their annual memorial march, organizers and activists have broadened and elevated the event by enlisting the support of 20 community organizations now doing work to combat the eviction, gentrification, and affordable housing crises that are gripping the city.

"We wanted to make this even more than just a candlelight vigil," David Waggoner, one of the organizers of the event, told the Guardian. "We want to use this time to remember Harvey and George's legacy in really fighting for the underdog."

He noted that attendance at the march has waxed and waned from year to year, but the coalition putting this one together promises to have a strong turnout this year because of the surging progressive activism around housing issues and the need to organize the community to save the soul of the city.

"There is very little to stop what's happening with the rapid gentrification," Waggoner said, but he also noted, "By building coalitions, the same way Harvey and George did, we can fight."

"We're not only honoring the history of Harvey Milk and George Moscone, but we're honoring their legacy by making them relevant today," Brian Basinger, head of the AIDS Housing Alliance/SF, told us. "The Milk March is going to be very exciting. We have over 20 community groups invited and helping us put it together."

Basinger said the progressive activism will continue through the 25th annual World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, and that participants in both events will be asked to present their demands to the city for dealing with the AIDS and housing crises. That list will be presented at City Hall during a noon rally on Dec. 2.

He said that affordable housing issues are LGBT issues given that nearly 30 percent of the city's homeless population identifies as LGBT, while that identification makes up just 15 percent of the overall city population.

"Those of us who are lucky enough to talk to the folks who knew Harvey remind us that it's about coalition-building," Basinger said, noting that many of Milk's contemporaries are now being forced to leave the city by evictions or economic displacement.

One voice from that era who is still around and active is gay activist Cleve Jones, who was an intern in Milk's office at the time of the assassination and wrote a poignant guest editorial in the Nov. 21 issue of the Bay Area Reporter about what Milk and Moscone advocated.

"They fought for renters, honored labor, and built coalitions to connect, not divide, us from each other," Jones wrote. "They would, I'm sure, be pleased by the progress that has been achieved on some of the issues they cared about. But they would be alarmed by the growing chasm between rich and poor, they would be angered by the evictions of the elderly, disabled, and people with AIDS. They would be fighting to keep City College open and they would be outraged by the violence and despair experienced by so many in our city's neighborhoods."

Organizers of the event say they think this is just the kind of memorial that Milk and Moscone would have wanted.

"We want the housing crisis to be front and center," Waggoner said. "We want this to be a time for people to connect with the legacy of Milk and Moscone in a very direct way."

The march begins at 7pm in Milk Plaza, Castro and Market streets, and continues with a rally outside City Hall.



to achieve an immortal status and ensure that people only say good things about you.

Hey, it worked for JFK and MLK.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 5:35 pm

oh, go fuck yourself

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

Kennedy would be considered Ike round two if he had not been shot.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

The abusive nature of your post suggests not.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

I'm not responsible for the above comment, but in deference to the spirit of that response, I figured I'd attempt a quick reply. First, it is in inctedibly poor taste to disparage anyone on the anniversary of their death. Certainly not anyone who endeavored to lead a charge for equality under the law. Second, you seem to overlook the fact of Harvey Milk's incredible influence while he was still alive, inspiring gay individuals across the country to assert themselves and be proud l themselves. Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man elected to a prominent political position, and he took the seat with all the tenacity and verve of the mandate bestowed upon him. Lastly, while there is a hint of truth to the notion that Harvey's assassination caused him to achieve a peculiar and tragic legacy, that is largely the consequence our bein left to wonder, unanswerably, what Harvey would have done with the rest of his time on this planet, having achieved so much at a relatively young age. Should he be less of an inspiration merely because his life was cut short?

Please, today, choose to remember Harvey's enduring message. "I understand that you cannot live on hope alone. But without it, life is not worth living."

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

You're referring to that "top poster" Guest that sits on this site day and night? Just ignore that piece of scum. I don't know why the Guardian continues to put up with that parasitic excrement. I expect as much from that "Guest." That "person" (if it can be called a "person") is sick, demented, and is just an empty cold vessel. There's nothing there. It's as if it had a lobotomy years ago. Just an empty, sick, skin-encased sack of fecal matter. Just ignore it. It's only here for craving attention. It's best to ignore it no matter how vile and debased the comment.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 9:22 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 28, 2013 @ 6:54 am

Well if I sound angry and bitter to you that was my intent and that demonstrates that at least ONE person here has feelings, and is not a cold piece of cement like yourself: An empty, rotten, feelingless vessel who cares about no one but themselves and their pompous ass. I can't stand trash like that.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 28, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

"First, it is in incredibly poor taste..."

Incredibly poor taste perfectly defines that "Guest" consistently. It is only here to get a rise out of people for its juvenile satisfaction.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 9:25 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 28, 2013 @ 6:54 am

A nice crowd showed up last night at Milk Plaza for the demonstration/protest/memorial. The crowd covered the entire plaza as well as part of the Jane Warner Plaza. I was glad to hear all the talk about the rampant evictions, TICs, etc. and what's unfortunately happening to the community. I heard that the D8 supervisor showed up to give some BS to the crowd, as if he were a different person than who he really is (he works for the Real Estate Industrial Complex and their liars and received generous campaign contributions from them for his first campaign). So we know who he works for. I was told that the crowd applauded him after he spoke (ugh), which disgusted me. Why would people fall for and applaud words that are likely more newspeak and lies? Then I saw him walking up 17th Street AT NIGHT completely entranced/obsessed staring at his gadget screen. My friend said to me: I thought the public had been advised against being on one's gadget alone at night for safety and security reasons in that it's not a wise thing to do. (I said: They have.) But there he was doing just that.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 28, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

I especially love your first-person accounts of demonstrations and repeated sitings of Scott Weiner looking at his phone on the street - we should attempt a recall on that basis alone!

Just curious - were you that friendless kid in grade school who pissed his pants every day and constantly tattled to the teacher?

Posted by The Goebblin Love Child of Smaug on Nov. 28, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

Just curious - Have you always been an asshole?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 29, 2013 @ 12:06 am

"Your writing style is worth of a Pulitzer. I especially love your first-person accounts of demonstrations and repeated sitings [sic] of Scott Weiner [sic] looking at his phone on the street - we should attempt a recall on that basis alone!

Thanks for the compliment. How kind. Unfortunately, it's highly doubtful that anyone would ever nominate you for a Pulitzer when you struggle to spell the most remedial of words such as "sightings" correctly, and as a Wiener-bot after all this time---where his name has appeared in print probably hundreds of time now---you STILL don't know the correct spelling for your beloved conservative politician's last name ('s "i" before the "e"). But work on them a little bit each day. Maybe eventually you'll get them.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 29, 2013 @ 2:58 am

Milk and Moscone did not organize to make demands of the city, Milk and Moscone organized to win elections and change public policy. They did this by building a coalition that successfully appealed to a majority of voters. Progressives used to do this, it worked, it was fun. Perhaps we should try what worked in the past, adapted to current circumstances instead of just demanding that elected officials do things that we want them to do but are not supported by the electoral coalition they ran and won on?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 29, 2013 @ 5:35 am

order to achieve power. They would rather be pure and ideal losers than work together with those who they deem their "enemies".

Posted by Guest on Nov. 29, 2013 @ 7:34 am

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Also from this author