A celebration marking the first stages of construction on the Harvey Milk Promenade Park at 3rd Street and The Promenade will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, on what would have been Harvey Milk's 82nd birthday.
The park will be the first in the country named after the slain activist. The free event will include a cake-cutting and induction ceremony for nine local members of the LGBT community, three of them posthumously.
"Harvey Milk was a trailblazer for the LGBT community who battled against discrimination and unbelievable odds,” said Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, in a statement. “I’m proud that Long Beach is the first city in the country to honor Harvey Milk by dedicating a park in his name.”
Harvey Milk's nephew and Harvey Milk Foundation member, Stuart Milk, is expected to attend the event honoring his uncle.
Milk’s life was famously documented in the film, Milk, with Sean Penn playing the part of the man who broke through walls of prejudice to become the first gay official elected to public office, thereby opening doors of opportunity for future gay Americans.
But he paid a heavy price.
Revered as a civil rights leader for his work on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which included passing a Gay Rights ordinance, Milk’s career was as hard-won as it was tragically short.
After just 11 months on the board, Milk was assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone by a former city supervisor, Dan White, on November 27, 1978.
More than three decades later, Long Beach’s Harvey Milk Promenade Park will be the first of its kind commemorating the bravery and determination of someone considered by many to be a hero.
"I am so proud that we are honoring the incredible work of civil rights leader Harvey Milk," said Councilmember Garcia in a statement. "This park will not only celebrate Harvey's historic contributions to equality, but honor the great work of our local LGBT community."
Also openly gay, Garcia both proposed and is sponsoring the project, along with the Harvey Milk Promenade Park Committee, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine, and Long Beach Development Services.
An Equality Plaza and replica of Milk's soapbox are to be featured at the park, which is scheduled for completion near the end of 2012. The final stage of a of Promenade Master Plan, The Harvey Milk Promenade project is being funded by the former Long Beach Redevelopment Agency, according to a statement.