Transgender civil rights activist Marsha P. Johnson is being honored by her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey with a monument celebrating her memory. The LGBTQ+ pioneer was crucial a figure in the Stonewall Riots, essentially kickstarting New York City’s gay liberation movement in 1969.
Union County Office of LGBTQ Affairs release states that this will be the first public monument in the state of New Jersey to honor an LGBTQ+ person and transgender woman of color.
On Thursday (Aug. 27), her family met with Union County Freeholders to announce a location near Elizabeth’s City Hall, as the future site for the public monument and plans to further highlight gay rights.
“In partnership with the family of Marsha P. Johnson, Union County Freeholders, City of Elizabeth officials, and Garden State Equality, the Office of LGBTQ Affairs will host a series of events during LGBTQ History Month (October, 2020) to engage with the community and the public to participate in the planning and creating of the historic project,” the Union County press release states.
Though some residents in the city petitioned to have a statue of Christopher Columbus removed and replaced with one of Johnson, the statue of Columbus will remain.
Al Michaels, Johnson’s nephew, and James Carey, her cousin, both agree that they do not want the statue of Columbus removed, according to NJ Advance Media.
Johnson was a leader in the days-long protests against police officers who raided Stonewall Inn, a gay bar, and she continued her fight for LGBTQ+ rights and homelessness until she was murdered in 1994.
“Marsha is needed now,” Michaels said. “Here we have the Black Lives Matter movement and the Trans Lives Matter movement. We have the same thing happening to people today, as far as police brutality.”
“And as far as equality and justice, and Marsha was at the forefront of all that in 1969,” he added. “And here it is 2020, and we’re in exactly the same place. And Marsha’s spirit has come to guide us through this fight, (like) she did back at Stonewall.”