Marsha P. Johnson was an active and prominent figure in the fight for civil and LGBTQ+ rights. Now, her legacy will never be forgotten.
As we continue celebrating the Black icons who have shaped America into what it is today, we cannot forget Marsha P. Johnson. Johnson was a Black trans activist from New Jersey. Most popularly, she's known as one of the prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising of 1969, a movement of demonstrations to secure rights for the LGBTQ+ community. Until recently, her legacy was, sadly, mostly forgotten. However, it appears that we are now reviving her contributions to civil and gay rights. As per a plan announced Saturday by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a state park in Brooklyn, New York City, will be renamed to honor her remarkable life and achievements, NBC News reports.
Governor Cuomo announced the decision while delivering a speech at a Human Rights Campaign gala over the weekend. While discussing some proposed methods of expanding protections to the LGBTQ+ community, he stated, "New York State is the progressive capital of the nation, and while we are winning the legal battle for justice for the LGBTQ community, in many ways we are losing the broader war for equality." He affirmed that the state was "fighting back" against pervasive and systemic hatred toward marginalized communities. Then, he unveiled the good news.
Calling Johnson "an icon of the community," Cuomo stated that the East River State Park in Brooklyn would become the first state park in New York to be named after an out and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Needless to say, the progressive move has been widely applauded. Several individuals took to Twitter to post high praise. Some noted that this acknowledgment was far overdue, while others agreed that the honor was well-deserved. Others yet urged that the appropriate authorities launch an investigation into her death, such as user Byphilcrawford, who stated, "That's all well and good to name a park after Marsha P. Johnson but the best honor would be if the NYPD and FBI solved her 1992 murder. Some suspect Marsha was murdered because she was ringing alarms about the Mafia's alleged continued role in the LGBTQ+ scene."
The user is not wrong. Johnson's body was tragically found floating in the Hudson River after the 1992 pride parade. Though her death was first thought to be a suicide, a massive wound located on the back of her head implied otherwise. At the time, law enforcement officials were not interested in investigating the death of a "gay Black man." While the circumstances of her death and the ensuing administrative apathy should never be forgotten, neither should her contributions to the LGBTQ+ community. Johnson co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with fellow transgender activist Sylvia Rivera, which provided housing and other resourced to homeless queer youth and sex workers in Manhattan. In addition to this, she was heavily involved in New York City's gay and art scene and was also an AIDS activist with ACT UP. The renaming of East River State Park is a small but important way of keeping her legacy alive.