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When We Rise Brought the Spirit of Harvey Milk to Life

When We Rise is the type of show you go into with several boxes of Kleenex. But as emotional as the miniseries’ premiere was, it didn’t come close to tonight’s episode.

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The latest segment of ABC’s powerful miniseries covered a lot of ground, but the most memorable moment was easily the assassination of Harvey Milk. It would be impossible to truly capture the shock of that pivotal moment in the LGBTQ rights movement, but When We Rise did an admirable job, using extensive real-world footage of the politician. This footage captured both the hope brought about by Milk’s brief stint in politics and the despair that enveloped San Francisco when he was killed.

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Quick primer on Harvey Milk: He was the first openly gay person elected to public office in the state of California. His efforts resulted in the passing of a strict gay rights law in San Francisco. Shortly thereafter, he was assassinated alongside Mayor George Moscone.

Harvey Milk
Image: ABC

When We Rise may not have focused exclusively on Milk and his accomplishments, but it did an amazing job of capturing the chaos that ensued after he died. The episode highlighted a protest-turned-riot that followed Milk’s assassination, once again combining acting with footage to great effect. The show also demonstrated the slow political progress that occurred in the late ’70s and ’80s, largely inspired by Milk’s life and death.

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If Twitter is any indication, the Milk assassination was the most impactful moment of the night. Several people made their devastation known the moment Milk’s assassination was revealed. Others shared their dread throughout the course of the episode — they knew exactly what was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier to take.

Unfortunately, tonight was the first time a lot of people even heard of Milk and his amazing contributions to the LGBTQ rights movement. We learn about Martin Luther King Jr., but less about Milk, who like so many others, gave his life while paving the path to greater freedoms for the LGBTQ community. Kudos to When We Rise for bringing history to life and reminding us why we need to continue the good fight.

What did you think of the way When We Rise covered Harvey Milk’s assassination? Comment and share your opinion below.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.

Gay rights movies slideshow
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images, Focus Features

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