Newark, NJ – The ornate lobby of the Main Post Office in Newark, NJ provided an excellent setting for a recent celebration of the new Harvey Milk Forever stamp issuance. The celebration featured an unveiling of the new stamp and included three speakers from the Northern NJ (NNJ) Postal District: Newark Postmaster Michael Deignan, NNJ District Manager Steven Hernandez, and NNJ Postal Diversity Manager Rita Ridley. Rutgers University LGBTQ Director Maren Greathouse also presented a speech. 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 LGBTQ 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. A commitment to serving a broad constituency, not just gay people, helped make Milk an effective and popular leader. He was an eloquent speaker with a winning sense of humor and was able to build coalitions between diverse groups. His achievements gave hope and confidence to gay people at a time when the community was encountering widespread hostility. Milk believed that government should represent all citizens, insuring equality and providing needed services. In the years since his death, there have been hundreds of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender public officials in America. In 2009, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Milk the Medal of Freedom.
Harvey Milk stamp unveiling ceremonies were observed on May 22 at the White House in Washington, D.C. and on May 28 at City Hall in San Francisco, CA. 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. Since its’ issuance, the stamp has been selling out nationwide. Other Post Offices that celebrated the issuance of the stamp during LGBTQ month in June include Bakersfield, CA; Chicago, IL; and Salem, MA.
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 reaffirms the Postal Service’s 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 LGBTQ 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, 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.”
Photographer Daniel Nicoletta took the photograph used in the stamp art, which was designed by art director Antonio Alcalá.
The stamp art centers on a photo of Milk taken in front of his camera store in San Francisco. The colors of the gay pride flag appear in a vertical strip in the top left corner. The Harvey Milk stamp is being issued as a Forever® stamp. This Forever stamp will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce rate.