Anniversary of Mayor George Moscone, Supervisor Harvey Milk assassinations

A dark day in history for San Francisco and beyond: 45 years ago, then Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated by Dan White, a supervisor who had resigned weeks earlier.

On Monday night, the anniversary, a vigil was held at Harvey Milk Plaza.   

The event opened with a musical performance by the same group who sang at the vigil on the night of the assassinations.

The voices of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus rang out in the Castro neighborhood for a vigil commemorating the assassinations of Moscone and Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in California.

"Every anniversary of the murders, I have marched, all these many years," said Carol Ruth Silver, who served as supervisor alongside her friend Milk. 

She said they and Moscone fought for gay rights.

"He and I and Harvey were fighting the police department, which used to stand outside the bathrooms at Golden Gate Park in order to entrap gay men," Silver said. 

Seared into the memories of many was when Diane Feinstein, then the Board of Supervisors president, made the public announcement that the mayor and supervisor had been shot and killed.

November 27, 1978 – the date of the assassinations at City Hall – was seared into the memories of many, especially Cleve Jones who was 24 years old at the time. He worked as an intern for Milk.

"There has not been a day in the last 45 years that I have not thought about him and what happened on this day," said Jones. 

He discovered Milk's body.  

"It was just horrifying. I had nightmares for years," said Jones.  

For many attending this vigil, sadness and anger have been channeled into advocacy and activism to honor Milk whom they described as a visionary. 

They paid tribute to his enduring message and legacy: the fight for equality and social justice.

"On that same board when Harvey Milk was elected , the first Chinese American supervisor, Gordon J. Lau, the first African American woman elected to the board, " said Jeffrey Kwong, president of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club. "We need to continue to encourage folks, diverse folks, to get involved and be part of the city government."  

"Harvey really understood people. He delighted in crossing all of those boundaries that divide us from each other," said Jones.  

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU.  Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU.