By Dan Brekke and Alex Helmick

Harvey Milk stamp released May 22, 2014, by the U.S. Postal Service. (USPS)
Harvey Milk stamp released May 22, 2014, by the U.S. Postal Service. (USPS)

Harvey Milk, champion of gay rights assassinated at San Francisco City Hall in 1978, would have turned 84 Thursday. And now, like hundreds of renowned Americans before him, from Richard Feynman to Martin Luther King Jr. to Jimi Hendrix, the U.S. Postal Service has released a stamp bearing his likeness.

The release of the stamp, marked with a White House ceremony, drew a crowd to San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood post office.

Long lines formed outside the facility at 18th and Diamond streets, and Postal Service spokesman James Wigdel says that office sold 5,000 of the Milk stamps in the first two hours it was on sale. The price of the stamp: 49 cents.

Postal Service spokesman James Wigdel say long lines formed outside the Castro post office, which sold 5,000 of the Milk stamps in the first two hours.

Stuart Milk, Harvey Milk’s nephew, spoke to KQED from the White House ceremony honoring his uncle.

“It’s a reminder that we all play a role in carrying hope forward,” Milk said. “Not just for LGBT people but for immigrants and for women and for people who are still marginalized or diminished or not treated equally.”

Harvey Milk was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1977, and the following year played a leading role in defeating a state ballot initiative that would have mandated the firing of gay and lesbian teachers and other school employees. Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated Nov. 27, 1978, by Dan White, who had recently resigned his seat on the Board of Supervisors. White had failed to persuade the mayor to reappoint him to the board and reportedly felt Milk had been working to keep him from rejoining the board. White confronted and shot both men in their City Hall offices.

Wigdel says the Postal Service has issued 30 million to 35 million Milk stamps in its first run. More could be issued later. In comparison, the first run on a blockbuster stamp like the Harry Potter series was around 100 million.

Wigdel says the stamp sends an important message.

“It’s a great thing for the Postal Service,” said Wigdel. “The postal service is very inclusive. It embraces diversity and we want to spread that diversity throughout the country. It’s a wonderful thing.”

  • Lloyd G.

    This maybe important news to some but certainly not to others.

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