It has only been three days and Black History Month has already gotten off to a solid start this year.
NBC News reports that on Saturday during a speech at a Human Rights Campaign gala, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed that East River State Park will be renamed after Marsha P. Johnson. Johnson was a transgender woman who spent her life fighting for LGBTQ rights. The state park will be the first one ever named after an openly LGBTQ person in New York.
Johnson played a pivotal role during the Stonewall Uprising of 1969. The uprising came as a result of police cracking down on a law that made it illegal for bars to serve alcohol to gay men. Beyond that, she, along with close friend and fellow activist Sylvia Rivera, would go on to form the organization Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR). They would also create the STAR House, one of the first shelters for LGBT youth in North America. During the height of the AIDS crisis, she continued her work as an activist and organizer for ACT UP, a group dedicated to AIDS prevention. In 1992, Johnson’s body was found in the Hudson River and the police initially ruled her death a suicide, though they would later reclassify her cause of death as “undetermined” in 2002.
Last year, it was announced that a monument to Johnson and Rivera would be put up in Greenwich Village by the end of 2021. The contributions by people of color in the march for gay and trans rights have historically been marginalized and overlooked. Hell, it has been little under five years they made a whole movie about the Stonewall uprising from a white as hell POV that entirely glossed over the work of Johnson. Hopefully, with both a monument and a park dedicated to her legacy, her contributions will never be forgotten