PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — When Suzanne Hale first heard the news she cried. Tears of joy, she said.
The Harvey Milk Street Project, a collective effort to honor the civil rights activist and the first openly gay elected official in California, was going to fall on a 13-block stretch in downtown Portland that included her restaurant, The Roxy.
It turns out that wouldn’t be the only connection between Hale’s restaurant and Milk. On Sunday, representatives with the Harvey Milk Foundation honored the restaurant with a painting of Milk and a tribute.
“We owe a lot to Harvey Milk,” Hale said. “He reached people all over the world, not just in San Francisco or even the U.S. He’s a true hero who fought for everybody.
“I’m really honored to be a part of that in the tiniest ways.”
Nicole Murray Ramirez, an activist who worked with Milk and represents his foundation, said the painting is a way to honor the community and Portland residents who gathered signatures and helped make the city the third in the country to have a street named for Milk, joining San Diego and Salt Lake City.
“I could tell you as a Latino and as a person of color I remember how proud I was when they started naming streets and schools after Cesar Chavez … I’m sure the African community was very proud when we started naming streets and schools after Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. I think it’s important to acknowledge all civil rights heroes and fighters for equality.”
The Roxy and its workers weren’t bystanders when it came to the street-naming effort. Hale said they collected signatures. The project was finished in time for Gay Pride.
The street meant so much to Hale. The painting makes it even more special for a restaurant that shares the same vision as Milk.
“Here at The Roxy we celebrate anybody different…we don’t care,” Hale said.
“I’m really touched.”