The Navy just named a ship after this gay rights icon. Here's why it matters.

Harvey Milk is known for one historic first. Now it's time for one more.

Many people know about Harvey Milk's legacy as a gay rights icon. Less talked about is his history in the Navy.

From 1951 to 1955, Milk served as a diving officer aboard the U.S.S. Kittiwake, a submarine rescue ship. Milk achieved the rank of lieutenant junior grade prior to receiving an honorable discharge.

Following his career in the Navy, Milk devoted the next two decades to activism and public service, becoming the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the United States. In 1978, he took office as a member of the San Francisco board of supervisors. Sadly, less than a year later, he was shot and killed.


Milk's personal possessions at the grand opening of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender history museum in 2011 in San Francisco. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

After his assassination in 1978, Milk received some of the country's highest honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In 2009, President Obama posthumously awarded Milk the highest civilian honor, alongside the likes of Sen. Ted Kennedy, Stephen Hawking, Billie Jean King, Sandra Day O'Connor, Sidney Poitier, and Desmond Tutu. The president invited Milk's nephew, Stewart, to accept on his uncle's behalf.

"His name was Harvey Milk, and he was here to recruit us — all of us — to join a movement and change a nation," said President Obama. "For much of his early life, he had silenced himself. In the prime of his life, he was silenced by the act of another. But in the brief time in which he spoke — and ran and led — his voice stirred the aspirations of millions of people. He would become, after several attempts, one of the first openly gay Americans elected to public office. And his message of hope — hope unashamed, hope unafraid — could not ever be silenced. It was Harvey who said it best: 'You gotta give 'em hope.'"

President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Freedom to Harvey Milk's nephew, Stuart, in 2009. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

In 2014, Milk was immortalized in the form of a postage stamp.

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

And in 2013, supporters pushed to rename one of the terminals of San Francisco's airport after Milk.

Unfortunately, their plan never came to fruition, but the wide support for the plan illustrates the power of Milk's legacy.

Supporters of Harvey Milk during a rally at San Francisco City Hall in 2013. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

In July 2016, the Navy — where Milk began his historic career — announced that it will be naming a ship after him.

On July 14, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that ships would be named after Milk, women's rights activists Sojourner Truth and Lucy Stone, former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. The ships are named after civil rights icons as part of the "John Lewis class" of ships — itself named after civil rights activist and Georgia congressman John Lewis.

During his time in the Navy, Milk had to hide who he was. At the time, gay service members were banned from the military. It wasn't until 2011 that lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals would be allowed to serve openly. And it wasn't until June 2016 that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that the ban on transgender service members would be lifted.

Milk's name among the engraved names of AIDS victims during a World AIDS Day commemoration event at the National AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Now that all people are allowed to serve their country regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, it's only fitting that one of the most prominent LGBTQ activists made another historic first: becoming the first gay man to have a naval ship named after him.

More

A new Harriet Tubman statue sculpted by Emmy and Academy award-winner Wesley Wofford has been revealed, and its symbolism is moving to say the least.

Harriet Tubman was the best known "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, a network of safe houses that helped thousands of enslaved black Americans make their way to freedom in the north in the early-to-mid 1800s. Tubman herself escaped slavery in 1849, then kept returning to the Underground Railroad, risking her life to help lead others to freedom. She worked as a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War, and after the war dedicated her life to helping formerly enslaved people try to escape poverty.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Kenneth Goldsmith / Twitter

The Hillary Clinton email scandal was a major right-wing talking point during the 2016 election that aimed to create an air of suspicion around the candidate.

The media played right into it turning Clinton — one of the most qualified candidates to ever run for the office — appear just as unworthy of the presidency as Trump, a vulgar, politically-inexperienced pathological liar.

The controversy surrounded Clinton's use of a private email account in which over 30,000 emails were sent during her time as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. An FBI interrogation found there were 110 confidential emails sent from her private account.

Clinton was never criminally charged, however FBI director James Comey said she was "extremely careless."

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens