Film Viewing: Times of Harvey Milk

In the late 1970's San Francisco changed the way it elected city officials. Members of the City's Board of Supervisors, which is similar to New York City's City Council would represent predetermined districts. Before this change, San Francisco's City supervisors would have to get votes from the entire city instead of the area where they lived to get elected.

Also similar to the changes that recently took effect here in New York City after the City Council was expanded, communities in San Francisco that were not represented directly now had a voice of their own in the city government.

These changes in San Francisco influenced people to become more involved with local politics and increased the value or weight of individuals' votes. People who found it extremely difficult to become elected before could now run for office with agendas that reflected the concerns of their communities.


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Step One:

After viewing Times of Harvey Milk in class, please answer these questions:

  1. How was Harvey Milk able to become elected?

  2. What made him qualified to run for office?

  3. Why was he respected?

  4. What was the social impact of his election? How did the people who supported him feel about his election feel?

  5. Why was Milk liked by people outside of his district?

  6. Which stereotypes were broken?

  7. What effect did violence have on the situation? Was it good or bad? Was it right or wrong?

  8. How does the treatment of homosexuals compare to other groups in the United States?

Step Two:

Option A:

Write a essay that compares the 'injustice' of Dan White's verdict and sentence to other injustices that you are familiar with.

Option B:

Develop a realistic political agenda for your community? (this can be done as a web page or PowerPoint presentation).

Be sure your agenda answers these key questions;

Describe your community and its needs.

Explain why you should be elected? What changes in your community would you try to make?

What would you do to get elected? How would you get your 'message' out to the people.


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Things to think about for this assignment

  • “Does your vote count?”

  • What influences or motivates people to run for elected office?

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TIME magazine profile of Harvey Milk. Includes sound file from a speech made by Milk. (There are 3 pages, be sure to press the "continued links at the bottom of each page)

A profile of Harvey Milk that describes his political impact.

Public TV station WQED profile of Harvey Milk

Internet Movie Database page for Times of Harvey Milk

A photo album of Harvey Milk

Resource page for Harvey Milk

Senator Diane Feinstein reflects on the killing of Harvey Milk

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State Standards 5.2 and 5.3, National Standards III and V

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  Updated: 12/03/03