Sidewalk burial

In Cemeteries on May 16, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Harvey Milk Memorial Plaque

575 Castro in San Francisco is an historic address – it was Harvey Milk’s Castro Camera shop in the 1970’s. Milk lived in the flat above his camera store.

Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to office in California, was assassinated along with San Francisco’s Mayor George Moscone on November 27, 1978.

Most of Harvey Milk’s ashes were scattered at sea by his friends. However, a small portion of them were buried under this plaque in the sidewalk in front of his old camera store at 575 Castro. It says:

Harvey Milk

May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978

Harvey Milk made history as the first openly gay elected official in California, and one of the first in the nation, when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in November 1977. His camera store and campaign headquarters at 575 Castro Street and his apartment upstairs were centers of community activism for a wide range of human rights, environmental, labor and neighborhood issues. Harvey Milk’s hard work and accomplishments on behalf of all San Franciscans earned him widespread respect and support. His life is an inspiration to all people committed to equal opportunity and an end to bigotry.

“You gotta give ’em hope!”

575 Castro Street - former site of Harvey Milk's Castro Camera

This Saturday, May 22, is the first official statewide holiday marking Harvey Milk’s birthday – it would have been his 80th.

Right at the end of this block of Castro at 18th Street is “Hibernia Beach” where many community-based activities happen. One of the most important of these activities are temporary memorials that are spontaneously created by the community for important members who have passed.

Castro and 18th Streets: Memorial for Dan Cusick, important community activist, April 2009

Just this week San Francisco Patrol Special Police Officer Jane Ellen Warner, who was known as “Officer Jane” around the Castro, Mission, and Noe Valley neighborhoods, died Saturday, May 8 after a yearlong battle against ovarian cancer. She has both a moving and beautiful memorial at Castro and 18th Streets, and another in a community window at Walgreen’s pharmacy across the intersection.

So – here we have remembrance right in the middle of the city – in a dense and vital neighborhood – and buried ashes. No need to keep the dead at a distance of miles and not easily accessible.


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