Brooklyn’s East River State Park has been renamed after Marsha P. Johnson, making it the first state park in the United States to honour an LGBTQ+ person.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement on Monday, on what would have been the transgender activist’s 75th birthday.
“Too often, the marginalised voices that have pushed progress forward in New York and across the country go unrecognised, making up just a fraction of our public memorials and monuments,” Cuomo wrote 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.”
He later tweeted that New York is “indebted” to Marsha for her “brave advocacy and relentless fight for LGBTQ equality”.
Marsha was one of the prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising of 1969, which is credited with kickstarting the modern fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the United States, and a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front.
She devoted her life as an outspoken advocate for trans people of colour, and established STAR (Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries) alongside fellow activist Sylvia Rivera to help homeless transgender youth in New York City.
Marsha and Sylvia will also be immortalised in a monument, which will be constructed in the Ruth Wittenberg Triangle in Greenwich.
“The LGBTQ movement was portrayed very much as a white, gay male movement,” said Chirlane McCray, the First Lady of New York. “This monument counters that trend of whitewashing the history.”
Al Michaels, Marsha’s nephew, said that she would “scoff” at the idea of a statue of herself, but would still be ecstatic that New York is building a monument for a transgender woman and “leading the world into the future.”
Officials are hoping it will be completed in 2021.