1: An excerpt of “A Letter to Harvey Milk” read by Lesléa Newman, 2016.

1: An excerpt of “A Letter to Harvey Milk” read by Lesléa Newman, 2016.

Famed lesbian Jewish author Lesléa Newman reads a passage from her story in which Harry Weinberg completes a homework assignment for his writing class; the teacher has asked him to “write a letter to somebody from our past, somebody who’s no longer with us.” He chooses Harvey Milk, and expresses his pain over Harvey’s way-too-early death by assassination.

Suggested Activities: If this kit is part of a unit on Harvey Milk and activism during this period, ask students to reflect on elements of Harry’s letter. What does he reveal about the time period? Why does Harry first blame Harvey “for getting himself shot”? What inequities does he highlight about the trial? What elements of San Franciscans’ response?

If the story is being read in an English class, ask students to look at the unique voice the author has created for Harry. Then, ask each student to work on shaping their own character and voice. What kind of speech patterns or idioms would their character use? Have each student write a letter in their own character’s voice.

Or, ask students to interview an older person in their life. What is a story that this older person has never told anyone before?

Source: Newman, Lesléa. "A Letter To Harvey Milk." In A Letter To Harvey Milk, 33-47. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.