ALAMEDA -- Anne Kronenberg, who served as San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk's campaign manager and later established a foundation in his honor, will be the keynote speaker at Alameda's annual celebration of the late gay rights leader.

The city's fourth annual Harvey Milk Day celebration on Monday at the Encinal High School's gymnasium, also will feature a performance by the East Bay Gay Men's Chorus and a presentation by student Hunter DeVecchi, who is among winners of a nonviolence essay contest. The free event will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a buffet dinner at 6 p.m.

With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to make landmark rulings on the recognition of gay marriage in June, Kronenberg said Milk would be pleased with all of the gay and lesbian couples demanding the right to wed.

"He knew in his heart that what he had to do was to be upfront gay and on the board for everyone to see," Kronenberg said. "The way you change things is by coming out yourself and letting people know who you are."

Kronenberg said she is optimistic the court will agree with a growing number of Americans whom polls indicate now support gay marriage, but she also is concerned about sweeping rulings that could set the movement back.

"I do know that people's attitudes are changing," she said.

Kronenberg had her own personal struggle gaining acceptance for her sexual identity, though the scorn came from within the gay community. Although she identified as a lesbian during her time working with Milk, she later married a man.

"Each of us needs to be able to find the love that we have, no matter who it's with," said Kronenberg, who has several children.

Kronenberg, who is executive director of the San Francisco Emergency Management Department, is the co-founder and co-chair of the Harvey Milk Foundation. She also helped to establish Harvey Milk Day celebrations around May 22 each year, which was Milk's birthday.

Kronenberg helped Milk, the first openly gay public official in California, win election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on his third attempt in 1977 and was a top aide while he was in office -- a year that saw passage of a gay rights ordinance barring discrimination in the workplace.

Milk, just 48, was assassinated in November 1978 along with Mayor George Moscone by former Supervisor Dan White. Milk's story was the subject of the 2008 film "Milk" starring Sean Penn.

The Alameda event will feature a reading of the Harvey Milk Day story by children from local elementary schools. Students who won a poetry and poster contest honoring Milk also will be acknowledged, and copies of the poster will later be distributed to local classrooms.

The Rev. Laura Rose of First Congregational Church said she believed Milk "would be smiling now" that 10 faith communities are involved in Alameda's tribute to him.

"It wasn't religion; it was more dogmatic harmful religion that Milk fought as he championed gay rights," said Rose, whose church is open and affirming of gay and lesbian members.

The event also will feature a proclamation from the City of Alameda. City Council members and officials from the Alameda Unified School District are also expected to attend.

IF YOU GO
What: Alameda's fourth annual Harvey Milk Day celebration
When: 5:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Encinal High School gymnasium, 210 Central Ave.
Cost: Free
Information: Visit AlamedaHarveyMilkDay on Facebook.