In February, we reported that New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced, during the Greater New York Human Rights Campaign gala, that East River State Park in Brooklyn would be renamed to honor late Black trans activist and entertainer, Marsha P. Johnson.
This week, Cuomo also revealed that it would be more than just the park’s name getting an upgrade. Updates and improvements to the park, set to be completed by next summer, include a new park house and education center, resurfacing deteriorating concrete, new park furniture and, best of all, a public art installation that will honor the life of Marsha P. Johnson. The installation will stand alongside information about Johnson’s life, as well as information on the LGBTQ movement as a whole.
“Too often, the marginalized voices that have pushed progress forward in New York and across the country go unrecognized, making up just a fraction of our public memorials and monuments,” said Governor Cuomo in 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.”
Johnson was an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights and as well as an HIV/AIDS activist. She is hailed as a leader of the Stonewall Uprising of 1969, a founding member of the Gay Liberation front, an activist with ACT UP and a co-founder of S.T.A.R. with friend and fellow trans activist Sylvia Rivera. She also established a shelter in the city for young LGBTQ individuals who were rejected by their families.
East River State Park is a seven-acre waterfront park in Williamsburg that hosts a number of popular events including the well-known food festival Smorgasburg, which is open this summer as Smorg-to-go.