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Posts Tagged ‘Harvey Milk’

The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk – A Review

Posted on June 10th, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

harvey milk


(Book 1 of 8 of my Summer Reading book reviews.)

Title/Author: The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk by Randy Shilts

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: In 1977, Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected official in the United States. This book chronicles his short life, telling in detail how an outsider won over a city and changed lives for the better, all before he was assassinated eleven months after his election.

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre/sub-genre: LGBTQ Non-Fiction

Diversity: LGBTQ and minorities from a variety of other countries.

Relatable characters: Yes.

Would I recommend this to others?: YES. If you’re at all interested in LGBTQ history, or outsiders who defy the odds, you’ll enjoy this book.

Personal thoughts: What I liked best about Harvey Milk was that he was an average, everyday person who decided he could make the world a better place by running for city supervisor, an elected political position, in San Francisco. He put in hours of hard work to meet the people, going out to bus stops and cafes every day, bars at night, wherever he could meet people and find out what they wanted fixed in their city. He had a great sense of humor, and loved telling jokes wherever he was. This book helps to show his personality, the hardships he went through to get where he was at the end of his life, as well as the gay political climate of the era around the country, which wasn’t very good at the time. I found the writing style to be easy to read, though sometimes it was hard to remember who a specific person was because multiple people had the same, or similar, names. (But that’s real life for you, right?) I almost cried at the end, knowing what a great guy he was and knowing he wasn’t going to survive. That did make it a hard read. I’m still amazed that the birthday party held in his honor just a few months after his death brought 20,000 people to his neighborhood to celebrate his life! If a guy can do that, he must have been great.

My Summer Reading List for 2015!

Posted on May 29th, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff, Teen Services

Every summer I like to challenge myself to read eight books I wouldn’t normally read within the months of June, July, and August. Some of the books have been chosen by Boston schools as either previous, or current, summer reading books and others are books I’ve been interested in for awhile but haven’t gotten around to reading yet. There is always a mix of fiction and non-fiction. As I finish each book, I  will post a review here on this blog (and here on our Bibliocommons catalog: Summer Reading 2015) so that everyone can see what’s going on and determine whether or not something on my list will be of interest. So, without further ado, here is my personal summer reading list for 2015:




the illustrated man


The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury


The tattooed man moves, and in the arcane designs scrawled upon his skin swirled tales beyond imagining: tales of love and laughter darkness and death, of mankind’s glowing, golden past and its dim, haunted future. Here are eighteen incomparable stories that blend magic and truth in a kaleidoscope tapestry of wonder–woven by the matchless imagination of Ray Bradbury.





one flew over the cuckoo's nest


One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey


In this classic of the 1960s, Ken Kesey’s hero is Randle Patrick McMurphy, a boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who swaggers into the world of a mental hospital and takes over. A lusty, life-affirming fighter, McMurphy rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched. He promotes gambling in the ward, smuggles in wine and women, and openly defies the rules at every turn. But this defiance, which starts as a sport, soon develops into a grim struggle, an all-out war between two relentless opponents: Nurse Ratched, back by the full power of authority, and McMurphy, who has only his own indomitable will. What happens when Nurse Ratched uses her ultimate weapon against McMurphy provides the story’s shocking climax.



caine mutiny


The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk


The novel that inspired the now-classic film The Caine Mutiny and the hit Broadway play The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, Herman Wouk’s boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life-and mutiny-on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater was immediately embraced, upon its original publication in 1951, as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of World War II. In the intervening half century, The Caine Mutiny has become a perennial favorite of readers young and old, has sold millions of copies throughout the world, and has achieved the status of a modern classic.





Monkey: A Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en


Probably the most popular book in the history of the Far East, this classic combination of picaresque novel and folk epic mixes satire, allegory, and history into a rollicking tale. It is the story of the roguish Monkey and his encounters with major and minor spirits, gods, demigods, demons, ogres, monsters, and fairies.






bel canto


Bel Canto by Ann Patchett


In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.







harvey milk


The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk by Randy Shilts


Known as “The Mayor of Castro Street” even before he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Harvey Milk’s personal life, public career, and final assassination reflect the dramatic emergence of the gay community as a political power in America. It is a story full of personal tragedies and political intrigues, assassinations at City Hall, massive riots in the streets, the miscarriage of justice, and the consolidation of gay power and gay hope.




when I was a soldier

 When I Was a Soldier by Valérie Zenatti


What is it like to be a young woman in a war?
At a time when Israel is in the news every day and politics in the Middle East are as complex as ever before, this story of one girl’s experience in the Israeli national army is both topical and fascinating. Valerie begins her story as she finishes her exams, breaks up with her boyfriend, and leaves for service with the Israeli army. Nothing has prepared her for the strict routines, grueling marches, poor food, lack of sleep and privacy, or crushing of initiative that she now faces. But this harsh life has excitement, too, such as working in a spy center near Jerusalem and listening in on Jordanian pilots. Offering a glimpse into the life of a typical Israeli teen, even as it lays bare the relentless nature of war, Valerie’s story is one young readers will have a hard time forgetting.





Beowulf by Unknown; Translated by Seamus Heaney


The national bestseller and winner of the Whitbread Award. Composed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf is the classic Northern epic of a hero’s triumphs as a young warrior and his fated death as a defender of his people. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on, physically and psychically exposed in the exhausted aftermath. It is not hard to draw parallels in this story to the historical curve of consciousness in the twentieth century, but the poem also transcends such considerations, telling us psychological and spiritual truths that are permanent and liberating.





October is LGBTQ History Month!

Posted on October 19th, 2012 by Anna in News, Teen Services


 October is LGBTQ history month, and today, Friday October 19, is Spirit Day! Show your LGBTQ spirit by wearing violet or purple or by changing your profile pictures to show something that is violet or by giving your picture a purple hue.

A brief History of the Rainbow Flag and those who created it:

“A true flag cannot be designed – it has to be torn from the soul of the people.” – Gilbert Baker

Who is Gilbert Baker? He’s the man who originally created the rainbow flag we now accociate with LGBTQ Pride.

In 1977 Harvey Milk was elected to the San Fransisco Board of Supervisors. He was the first openly gay man elected to a high public office in a major United States city. Once elected, he asked his friend, Gilbert Baker, to make a symbol of pride for the gay community as Baker had become very proficient with a sewing machine after his honorable discharge from the Army. Milk wanted a positive alternative to the pink triangle, which had been originally used in Nazi Germany to label gay men and was then “taken back” in the early 1970’s by gay men themselves.

Baker dyed the fabrics of the new flag himself and, with the help of volunteers, stitched together eight strips of brilliant color into a huge banner that spoke volumes: hot pink stood for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise blue for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit.

A few of his handmade Rainbow Flags were flown in the 1978 “Gay Freedom Day” Parade in San Francisco. Baker then sought out the Paramount Flag Company to see about mass producing the flag. However, the hot pink color was not readily available commercially so the company produced a seven striped flag instead.

On November 27, 1978 tragedy occured when Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Mascone were assassinated at the San Fransisco City Hall.

Filled with grief and rage, the Gay Freedom Day Committee (now called San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee) quickly decided that the Rainbow Flag should be flown from the light poles along both sides of Market Street for the 1979 Gay Freedom Day Parade. To make it look right, they split the colors onto two flags, flying each of the three-striped flags on alternate sides of the street. They had to eliminate the indigo stripe to make an even six colors, and since then, we’ve stuck with those six colors: red, orange, yellow, green, indigo, and violet.

This is a campaign button for Harvey Milk from the 1970’s before he cut his hair and shaved his mustache.

They always say behind every man is a woman. It’s an age old phrase, even if a bit sexist. But for Harvey Milk, that woman was actually a man named Scott Smith who was his business partner in the camera shop they owned together, his partner in life, and the man who helped to run his political campaigns behind-the-scenes. Here, Scott is on the left with Harvey embracing him from behind.

And last, but certainly not least, here is a picture of Gilbert Baker and his famed rainbow flag.

*The flag shown in the picture at the top of this blog post was sewn by Gilbert Baker for the 2003 Key West PrideFest in celebration of the 25th aniversary of the original flag. It is the world’s largest pride flag sitting at 1.25 miles long! Since 2003, sections of the Key West Pride flag have appeared at Pride events all over the world.