A group of lawmakers in Elizabeth, N.J., authorized plans to build a monument to transgender civil rights activist Marsha P. Johnson. According to Union County officials, this would make Johnson the first transgender person in the country to be honored with a monument.
ABC News reports that city officials met with the Johnson family on Thursday to officially announce their plans to erect the monument. The Johnson family played a pivotal role in creating the proposal for the monument, which will be located near downtown Elizabeth across from the Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy. In October, the family will host a series of events in partnership with the county for LGBTQ History Month that will allow the community to engage with the planning process of the monument.
“Today, the family of Elizabeth native and LGBTQ+ Civil Rights activist Marsha P. Johnson was joined by Union County Freeholders and LGBTQ+ advocates to announce the future site of a public monument on Freedom Trail in the City of Elizabeth in Johnson’s honor,” a statement from the county read. “The monument is anticipated to be the first public monument in the State of New Jersey to honor a LGBTQ+ person and transgender woman of color.”
Johnson was an outspoken advocate for trans and LGBTQ rights for over two decades until her tragic death and is said to have played an instrumental role in the Stonewall uprising of 1969. Johnson and others fought back against a group of New York City cops who attempted to raid the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in the Greenwich Village.
She also founded the Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries, an organization intended to provide assistance to homeless transgender youth. She died in 1992 at age of 46 when her body was found in the Hudson River. Her death was initially ruled a suicide, but the case was reopened in 2012 following pleas from her family alleging foul play was involved. Her death still remains unsolved to this day.
This is not the only honor bestowed upon Johnson this year, as last week New York Governor Andrew Cuomo dedicated East River State Park to Johnson on what would’ve been her 75th birthday. Similar to the monument, it is the first state park in the country to be dedicated to a transgender person. There are plans to improve conditions in the park as well as add a public art piece celebrating Johnson’s life and the role she played in the LGBTQ movement, according to a statement.
“Marsha P. Johnson was one of the early leaders of the LGBTQ movement, and is only now getting the acknowledgement she deserves. Dedicating this state park for her, and installing public art telling her story, will ensure her memory and her work fighting for equality lives on,” Cuomo said in a statement.