Today’s California’s first observed Harvey Milk Day. Actions and celebrations are stockpiledÂ here by EQCA and here onÂ the Harvey Milk Day web page. Here’s theÂ Milk Foundation’s site, which includes a great page on Harvey In Schools. Â Our school district will be adapting HRC’sÂ Welcoming Schools curriculum next year, as policyÂ district-wide (first such district in the nation, thankyouverymuch!), and I reckon we’ll be working with this material plenty. Â I look forward to reporting on it.
Our family Â didn’t go door-to-door today, which some did (see the EQCA page), or attend a celebration out and about. We did talk about Harvey Milk, though, and liken him as someone who is, to mama’s and baba’s people, what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X are to their Auntie Rachel’s people. (Both Martin and Malcolm are celebrated in our school district; this past Monday was a school holiday for Brother Malcolm). Â The word martyr is an important one, but one we haven’t broached yet. We have Kari Krackow’s kid’s book The Harvey Milk Story, Â but stopped short of reading it this year. Â The assassination is on the third to the last page; no graphic images but the following:
On a gray November morning, Dan White crawled through a basement window at the back of City Hall with a loaded gun.
Dan White entered the mayor’s office and, after a brief argument took place, shot Mayor George Moscone. Â Reloading his gun, he hurried down the hall to Harvey Milk’s office. Five shots rang out.
Both Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk were killed.
The girl child is just too darn close a reader for us to skip a page, or even pretend to miss one and then substitute “death” for “assasination.” It’s a very sticky question, how and where to draw the lines around painful truths of adult life. I do know that once the topics of assassination and murder, the willful, malice-filled ending of someone else’s life Â have been broached, Krackow’s book will be on-limits, rather than off. Â Soon enough. Â All this comes a-rushin’ in soon enough.
Our 3- and 5-year-old kids are well aware of death. The spirits of loved ones now dead are big parts of their everyday lives. And a dog was part of their family, then gone. They also know about the misunderstanding of people like mama and baba, even. Â But assassination is another thing. Â We’re going to go there, but not just yet. Â It’s hard to pull the veil aside sooner than it has to be; harder still, I’m sure, to have a stranger do so before we’ve prepared them for the sight of things on the other side. As Brother Martin would often sing out in his speeches (about justice’s coming), “How long? Not long.” Â I like what Brother Harvey said, too, though: “The important thing is not that we can live on hope alone, but that life is not worth living without it.”