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Harvey Milk & San Francisco's Mayor Murdered at City Hall (November 27, 1978)

1978_button_briggs Jimjones.timemagazineNovember 1978 was a month like few others for the city of San Francisco.  First, on Nov. 7 voters in California rejected the anti-gay Briggs Initiative which called for a ban on hiring gay teachers.  It was an emotional victory for openly gay San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk who had put much energy campaigning against it.  A week-and-a-half later People's Temple cult leader Jim Jones forced more than 900 of his followers to commit suicide in his Jonestown settlement in Guyana.  Jones and many of the victims were former residents of the Bay Area.

 

Harveymilk_georgemoscone Then on the Monday after Thanksgiving (11/27), disgruntled former city supervisor Dan White snuck into City Hall that morning and shot mayor George Moscone (pictured, near left) at point blank range and then walked down the hall and did the same to Milk (far left).  In a bizarre coincidence it turned out Moscone and Milk had a connection with Jim Jones who a few years earlier was chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority.

 

Mayor_of_castrostreet Seanpenn_harveymilk At the time I was in my senior year at Penn State and in the early stages of coming out so Milk's murder was especially sobering for me.  Back then having an openly gay man in such a high profile government position was unheard of, compounding the loss.  In 2009 Sean Penn won the Oscar for his portrayal of Milk in the movie Milk.  The film was based on the biography The Mayor of Castro St. - The Life & Times of Harvey Milk

 

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