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Born on September 30 1918, in East Harlem, New York, and raised in an Orthodox Jewish home, his birth name was Solomon Basker. Bob was a “political activist” and “coalition builder” long before these catch phrases became common in our vernacular. Throughout his life, Bob worked tirelessly for those he saw as disenfranchised. Bob became active in the student peace movement in the 1930s. Bob joined the US Army in December 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor deeply affected his life and view of the world. It was at this time in his life that he changed his name to Robert (Bob) Basker. After his tour of duty and Honorable Discharge, Bob became active in the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam War Movements. In 1961, Bob was responsible for securing a home for the first Black family in the all-white suburb of Skokie, Illinois and was instrumental in the struggle for integrated housing. In 1965, he co-founded Mattachine Midwest, one of the first homosexual rights organizations in America, and was its first president under the assumed name Bob Sloane. As an active Progressive member of the Democratic Party, Bob had a unique talent for forming coalitions between both organizations and influential individuals. As a fighter for civil rights, Bob was an active member of many organizations including: NOW (in fact, Bob was once the NOW Man of the Year), NAACP, ACLU, Veterans For Peace, B&W Men Together and was very proud to have been a Charter Officer of the Alexander Hamilton Post #448 of the American Legion. Besides championing the issue of GLBT equality, Bob also fought for prisoner’s rights, the legalization of medical marijuana and a Woman’s right of choice on the issue of abortion. In the final years of his life, Bob was employed by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.
On September 28, 1998, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a Resolution commending Bob Basker on his 80th birthday for his years of commitment and service to the citizens of San Francisco and the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Transgender community of San Francisco. Bob Basker was also recognized as a long time activist for labor, gay rights and medical marijuana. Because of his unique skills and connections, plus a gentlemanly manner, Bob Basker was able to draw together a variety of groups to work together for the common cause of getting California voters to pass the 1996 medical marijuana law, Prop 215. Bob Basker died April 6, 2001 of heart failure at age 82. On April 09, 2001, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors adjourned its meeting out of respect to the memory of the recently deceased
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