HARVEY MILK FOUNDATION WORKS FOR EQUALITY IN THE AMERICAS AND AROUND THE GLOBE
Our work in the last several months, The Harvey Milk Foundation took impressive strides toward these lofty and important goals. Our volunteers worked tirelessly to make global progress, not just for the LGBT community, but for all targets of hate, discrimination and ignorance.
In 2012, the United Nations, British Parliament and International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) worked collaboratively to bring HMF founder, Stuart Milk, to the UK to present a major talk on LGBT human rights before a full meeting of the House of Lords.
The foundation also worked with Southwark Playhouse in London to produce the first European production of Emily Mann’s award-winning play, Execution of Justice. The play sold out all of its 45 performances at the theatre’s 240-seat Main House, providing needed financial support to Stonewall UK, a leading LGBT charity.
While Milk was in the UK, the BBC recorded three separate interviews with Stuart Milk for broadcast on BBC-World News, BBC-The Strand, and BBC-World. During these wide-ranging discussions Stuart addressed the continuing struggle to decriminalize homosexuality in many Commonwealth nations, and the further advancement of LGBT inclusiveness in civil societies.
And HMF sponsored and partnered again with UK based 17-24-30 for our third annual “No to Hate” rally in London’s iconic Trafalgar Square. Ministers and Deputies and most importantly activists from several minority communities participated alongside London past and present Mayors and national officials. The rally has gathered up to 10,000 people per year for a moving candlelight vigil to combat hate crimes and support all targets of hate around the globe.
Following the success of 2011’s Harvey Milk Foundation/Equality Italia “Seven City Human Rights Tour,” HMF partnered with the Rome LGBT Center as they dedicated their new building and library to Harvey Milk. The President of the Province of Rome attended as Stuart presented the Center with a bronze bust of Harvey—the original artist’s proof for the striking bust at San Francisco City Hall.
One of the central goals of the Harvey Milk Foundation is education. In 2012, Stuart visited with Italian authorities to follow up on a commitment made the previous year by former Fair Opportunity Minister Mara Carfagna to begin LGBT-inclusive education in Italian public schools. Stuart met with Patrizia De Rose, who heads Italy’s Department of Fair and Equal Opportunities, and Elsa Fornero, the Minister of Labor, Social Policies and Gender Equality. They were excited to report that education on LGBT discrimination has begun in 2,000 Italian grade schools as part of the European NISO Project to “fight homophobia through active citizenship and media education.”
Stuart Milk, Andrea Banfi, other Foundation leaders and the Rome LGBT Center were moved during a visit to the Socrates Public School in Rome were the previous years work the Foundation completed with the Italian Education Ministry paid off big time in a LGBT inclusive program. After speaking to the students during a school general assembly, several shared that they had come out as a result of this new piloted curriculum. The students explained—through tears—that this program had been impactful to their self-acceptance. The school’s principal called it a “life-altering moment.”
Stuart, Milk Foundation leaders and many of our Italian partners visited the ancient synagogue in Rome, meeting with Giacomo Moscati, President of the Roman Jewish Community along with other community leadership. As a result of this meeting, The Rome Jewish Community formally committed to include the teaching of homosexual persecution in their annual events remembering Holocaust victims. These events remind the world not to repeat the kind of separation and division that led to the Holocaust.
Additional visits in Rome included: state addresses with the Italian Forum of Youth Organizations and the Italian Institute of Health; a public debate in the city of Albano, at the historic City Hall); ongoing meetings and partnership with Equality Italia, to collaborate with LGBT allies in the Italian Parliament. Using both the story and the example of Harvey Milk, Stuart and U.S. Ambassador David Thorne shared ways to build coalitions with minority and marginalized populations in Italy and throughout the Mediterranean Region.
Stuart also presented a lecture on “Civil Rights and LGBT Inclusiveness” at the University of Milan. And at Bocconi University, one of the world’s top institutes of higher learning, Stuart gave a lecture on “The Intersection of Economic Prosperity and Diversity” sponsored by the Bocconi Equal Students Association. A similar discussion, entitled “Meeting Stuart Milk: The Promotion of Civil Rights as Social and Politic Value,” was presented to the leadership of the Italian Democratic Party in the Lombardy Region Legislative Assembly. (Video of this interview is available at: http://affaritaliani.libero.it/esteri/stuart-milk-consigliere-di-obama-per-i-diritti-civili-ad-affaritaliani-080512.html.)
MILK FOUNDATION HOSTS FIRST GLOBAL SUMMIT ON DIVERSITY AND ECONOMICS in MILAN
As a result of this extensive groundwork, and in with the generous assistance of the US Consulate General in Milan, the Harvey Milk Foundation produced and hosted a ground-breaking Cross Atlantic Global Summit on “The Intersection of Human Rights and Economic Prosperity.” Equality Italia, the City of Milan and the Italian Chamber of Deputies were important co-producers and hosts, and additional support was provided by the U.S. Embassy, Bocconi University and the Italian Ministry of Equal Opportunity. The inspiring summit was held Oct. 4-5 at the iconic Milan City Hall, and brought together LGBT leaders from five continents. It also included a groundbreaking panel featuring transgendered leaders from South, Central, and North America, West and Central Europe and Asia.
In Mexico, Stuart and Commissioner Murray Ramirez led a first-time event for Northern Mexico’s divided LGBT community entitled “We Are All Reaching for the Same Goals.” The summit brought together all of Mexico’s-LGBT related organizations to heal disagreements and define common goals. Two of Mexico’s City’s daily papers covered the event, including Stuart’s passionate speech. Mexico’s LGBT leadership lauded it as one of the most inspiring events in the nation’s history.
Harvey rose to prominence in California, and so it’s fitting that many of the Harvey Milk Foundation’s biggest 2012 initiatives took place in the Golden State.
This past year, HMF helped many California schools implement statewide legislation making LGBT history a mandatory component of educational curriculum. In February, Stuart and San Diego City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez—an member of HMF’s Advisory Board— presented the San Diego School District with 200 copies of The Harvey Milk Story, a beautifully written and illustrated book for younger readers, for distribution throughout the district.
Stuart Milk and Foundation leaders participated with the City of West Hollywood City Hall to present The Harvey Milk Story—and a curriculum guide for LGBT history—to Mayor Jeffrey Prang, Deputy Mayor John Heilman and the Friends of West Hollywood Library Committee. This presentation launched education in LGBT history at charter and public elementary schools within the West Hollywood school district. Mayor Prang and the full City Council joined Stuart, Commissioner Murray Ramirez and Allan Spyere to dedicate a Harvey Milk banner for permanent exhibition at the public library.
In Los Angeles, Stuart and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hosted a “Day of Community Service” that joined the city’s Latino, Asian, Black and immigrant communities to work alongside the LGBT community at the Kennedy Public Schools Complex. Both Stuart and Mayor Villaraigosa offered emotional and effective speeches, with an emphasis on coalition building and the need for shared support.
On May 22, Stuart Milk broke ground for the Harvey Milk Promenade and Oceanfront Park in Long Beach. The park and pedestrian promenade was first envisioned by Long Beach Council Member Robert Garcia. Garcia and Mayor Bob Foster dedicated the park, acknowledging “the unique inspiration of Harvey Milk to create a deeper level of societal acceptance for all historically diminished peoples.”
And in San Diego, Commissioner Murray Ramirez renamed Hillcrest Street—which leads to the city’s respected LGBT Center—“Harvey Milk Street.” Stuart and Commissioner Murray Ramirez gave moving speeches at a dedication ceremony that was attended by a crowd of San Diego residents. The event received local and national press coverage.
And back in San Francisco, HMF co-founder Anne Kronenberg produced and also hosted a “Harvey Milk Birthday Celebration and Fashion Show” that brought back the humor and light-hearted fun that Harvey brought to the city over three decades ago. Many of Harvey’s San Francisco friends and colleagues, as well as a new generation of openly LGBT city leaders, joined Anne in what she promises will become an annual celebration of “all things Harvey Milk.”
With the leadership and support of HMF, “Harvey Milk Day” continues to grow in California, where it is one of the state’s “Annual Days of Recognition,” and also throughout the nation and world. (See below.)
GLOBAL LGBT RIGHTS GIVING WASHINGTON DC LEADERS A PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE
The Foundation brought Hungarian LGBT rights activist Milan Rozsa to the nation’s capital. Stuart Milk and Mr. Rozsa participated in high-level meetings and discussions with LGBT-supportive government officials including: Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, First Lady Michele Obama and Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett—each mentioned their meetings with Rozsa in their own media outlets. These meetings spotlighted ongoing human rights abuses in Central and Eastern Europe. Rozsa put a very human face on the civil rights struggle in a region of the world that has been continually highlighted in Stuart’s ongoing Huffington Post contributions:
Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stuart-milk/hope-and-courage-standing-on-the-shoulders-of-harvey-milk-in-central-europe_b_2253197.html
HMF produced a “Kickoff to Harvey Milk Day” that partnered with the State’s LGBT Caucus, the California History Museum, the California Teachers Union, Equality California and the State Office of Public Instruction. Stuart, Anne, California Assembly Speaker John Perez and State Senator Mark Leno led a substantial public forum and debate on how best to achieve the implementation of LGBT history in the state’s public school system.
On the internet, HMF once again produced and maintained the Harvey Milk Day website (http://www.harveymilkday.co), with full listings for partnered Harvey Milk Day events in 57 Cities, 22 States and seven countries. The web site provided the producers of each event with an online resource guide and electronic press kit for their convenience. Program Director Mike Colby led meetings with stakeholders about adding formal Harvey Milk Day events in cities like Boston, in several states, and within the European Union, which is consideration a similar day of recognition.
Members of the Harvey Milk Foundation continue to appear at major speaking engagements for affinity groups, resource organizations and global corporations that set an example in the areas of diversity and inclusiveness. HMF produced or supported additional educational and capacity building events in New York, Orlando, Tokyo and Istanbul, as well as at universities and colleges that include Harvard University, Cambridge University, Bocconi University, the University of Milan, the University of San Diego and the State University of New York.
The Harvey Milk Foundation has expanded relationships and formal partnerships with numerous global organizations, including: Trust for the Americas, Organization of American States, InterPride, United Nations Association, European Commission, Asia Rainbow, Pink Diamond Society, Schools Out UK, Equality Italia, Prague Pride, Budapest Pride, Delta Foundation, Atlanta Pride Committee, UK GLBT History Month, Pride House London, and Pride Solidarity.
HMF has forged new relationships with some amazing organizations throughout the world (including Tijuana and El Salvador). And we continued to benefit from the generosity of patrons abroad and here in the United States. Notably, Pittsburgh Pride and Grammy and Academy Award-winning musician Melissa Etheridge donated proceeds from Etheridge’s first–ever Pride concert in the Steel City.
On behalf of the Harvey Milk Foundation, Stuart Milk and Anne Kronenberg, offered —at no cost—themselves as keynote speakers for dozens of worthy local organizations and events, including: Orlando’s Metropolitan Business Association, Atlanta Executive Network, Italian Youth Forum, Roma Jewish Community Center, Roma LGBT Center, International Lesbian & Gay Professionals in Law Enforcement conference in Orlando, Texas Youth First fundraiser in Dallas, and Lisa Ling’s benefit for the LGBT Center in Los Angeles.
Universal feedback, from numerous levels and sources, is that Stuart is an inspiration, truly and relentlessly committed to his uncle’s vision of equality, and uniquely qualified to preserve his uncle’s legacy.
The Foundation along with our partners at ICS have been spearheading a letter-writing campaign to lobby the U.S. Postal Service to create a commemorative U.S. Postage stamp honoring Harvey Milk. For more information, visit: http://milkfoundation.org/about/harvey-stamp-campaign.
In addition, HMF continues to work with the White House on an annual White House Harvey Milk Champion of Change Award.