Harvey Milk’s speechwriter is dead

Frank M. Robinson wrote "You've Got to Have Hope" speech; Milk thought Robinson could succeed him.

The speechwriter who helped elect the first openly gay American office-holder died June 30. Novelist Frank M. Robinson wrote the famous “You’ve Got to Have Hope” speech for Harvey Milk, who used it on the stump in his successful campaign to become San Francisco city supervisor.

Robinson became so trusted an advisor that the assassination-obsessed Milk declared that in the event of his death, Robinson should succeed him, because “he would be able to carry on the philosophy and idea of what I stood for.” (The spotlight-shy speechwriter didn’t.)

The “Hope Speech” centered on a story about a call he’d received from a young gay boy in Altoona, Pa.


“Harvey polished the speech and used it often," Robinson wrote in his foreword to a collection of Milk's writings, according to the L.A. Times obit, "though the rest of us kidded him because some days the boy lived in Altoona, other times in San Antonio or Buffalo. The boy really got around, we thought."

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