The ornate lobby of the Main Post Office in Newark provided an excellent setting for the Postal Service’s recent celebration of the new Harvey Milk Forever stamp issuance. The celebration included speakers from the Northern NJ Postal District and featured the unveiling of the new stamp. Speakers included Newark Postmaster Michael Deignan, District Manager Steven Hernandez, Postal Diversity Manager Rita Ridley, and Rutgers University LGBTQ Director Maren Greathouse.
Other guests involved included August Stadnik, Community Outreach Coordinator for the Hetrick-Martin Institute, and Perris Straughter, head organizer of Newark Gay Pride Week.
Harvey Milk (1930-1978) was an early pioneer, champion and advocate of gay rights. Milk’s achievements as an openly gay man and member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors gave hope and confidence to the LGBT community. He was a visionary who believed that government should not only represent all citizens, but also provide needed community services and ensure equality for all. His assassination in 1978 was a tragedy for humanity and the politics of change. In 2009, President Obama posthumously awarded Milk the Medal of Freedom.
Harvey Milk stamp unveiling ceremonies were observed at the White House in Washington, D.C. and in San Francisco. The stamp began selling nationwide on May 22. The image on the stamp is based on a 1977 photograph of Milk in front of his Camera Store on Castro Street in San Francisco.
Gregory Huff, Postal employee and member of the Planning Committee for the Harvey Milk stamp celebration in Newark, said regarding the stamp and the event, “The historic issuance of this stamp is an opportunity for the Postal Service to reaffirm its commitment to the core values of diversity, equality and inclusion. Forty-five years after the Stonewall uprising, we as a nation have come a long way in our journey on the road to equal rights for everyone; but we still have a long way to go. Today, we as a nation are walking on the path of equality when the military strikes down the barriers of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” We as a people are walking on the path of equality when our citizens and lawmakers redefine the concept of marriage based on love, not gender. We as a community are walking on the path of equality when our young people can be taught in schools free from bullying, intimidation and harassment. This path will move us as a society beyond the confines of tolerance, into the realm of total acceptance, so that the LGBT youth of this world will not be afraid to be who they are, and will not face discrimination or even death for who they love.
“This is the legacy of Harvey Milk,” said Huff. “One of the brave few who were willing to help us take the first step on this path, and we are so glad that the Postal Service has decided to honor him on a U.S. postage stamp. It is because of Frank Kameny, Del Martin, Harvey Milk, and many others that we can finally begin to practice the doctrine of freedom, liberty and justice for all, regardless of sexual orientation,” He concluded.
The Harvey Milk stamp and products related to it are available at http://uspsstamps.com/stamps/harvey-milk.