Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Harvey Milk Day

Today marks the anniversary of the assassination of Harvey Milk. Please take some time to learn a bit about his life and what he did to make yours better. Here is a link to a now famous speech given by Milk: Harvey Milk speech.

I am thinking of Harvey today. To celebrate the man and his spirit, I wrote a piece of music using Harvey's words, based on parts of this speech and other speeches that Harvey gave. The piece is entitled "You Gotta Give 'Em Hope," and will be premiered next June in Madison, WI, by Perfect Harmony Men's Chorus.

This is icon painter Robert Lentz' beautiful icon of Harvey Milk of San Francisco.

Lentz writes in his luminous book, Christ in the Margins:

Harvey Milk was the first openly gay person to be elected to high public office in the United States. . . As supervisor he fought consistently for the rights of all of those without a voice. These people included blue-collar workers, the elderly, racial minorities, and gay men and women. . . .

The day of his election, Harvey tape recorded his last testament, in which he acknowledged that he would most probably die violently. The last words of that message were, "You gotta give them hope." On November 27, 1978, he was shot five times at close range by another politician who was infuriated by his defense of gay and lesbian people. That night 40,000 people, men and women, old and young, gay and straight, kept candlelight vigil outside City Hall.

In this icon he holds a candle, keeping vigil himself for the oppressed of the world. He wears a black armband with a pink triangle. This was a Nazi symbol for homosexuals, and it represents all those who have been tortured or killed because of cultural fears regarding human sexuality. Their number continues to grow with each passing year, and the compassionate Christ continues to say, "Whatever you did to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did to me."

Blessings to all, from Harvey to everyone who is still fighting the same fights. Amen.

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