New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced, during the Greater New York Human Rights Campaign gala on February 1, that East River State Park in Brooklyn would be renamed to honor late black trans activist and entertainer, Marsha P. Johnson. The announcement came on the first day of Black History Month.
Johnson, who was also a former sex worker, is most notable for her involment in the 1969 Stonewall uprising, in which she has been rumored to have been the person who threw the first brick at the police officers who raided the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Greenwich Vilage, Manhattan. The event is seen as the beginning of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.
A lifelong activist, Johnson also founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) in 1970, along with her friend and fellow activist Sylvia Rivera. The pair led the political organization in finding housing and other forms of support to homeless queer youth and sex workers in Manhattan. Johnson died in July of 1992 of undetermined causes.
“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,” said Cuomo at the gala.
We are fighting back, and we will continue achieving progress and showing the rest of the nation the way forward.Andrew Cuomo, New York State Governor
Cuomo went on to remark that hate crimes against black people, Jewish people, Muslims and the LGBT+ community were on the rise, and that they were being driven by “fear and intolerance”.
After the gala, Cuomo took to Twitter for a public announcement, stating:
“I’m proud to announce that East River State Park in Brooklyn will be named in honor of Marsha P. Johnson, a pioneer of the LGBTQ rights movements.
NY unequivocally supports the rights of LGBTQ New Yorkers, now and always.”
In addition to the renaming, New York City officials announced last year that Johnson and her friend Sylvia Rivera will also be honored with a public monument. Details have not been released.