New York has honoured the memory of the late Marsha P Johnson, LGBTQI activist and a leader of the 1969 Stonewall uprising, and dedicated a park to her – the first state park in the country to be named after an LGBTQI person and a trans person of colour.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement on Monday, which would have been Johnson’s 75th birthday, that the East River State Park in Brooklyn will now be known as Marsha P. Johnson State Park. Johnson, died in 1992 at the age of 46, and the cause of her death remains unsolved to this day.
“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,” Cuomo said in a statement.
I'm proud to announce the dedication of East River State Park in Brooklyn to #MarshaPJohnson.
Today, Marsha P. Johnson State Park becomes the first State Park to honor an LGBTQ person.
NY is indebted to her for her brave advocacy and relentless fight for LGBTQ equality. pic.twitter.com/mMNo6jqQcI
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 24, 2020
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul recalled New York’s importance as the “birthplace of the LGBTQ rights movement with the Stonewall Uprising more than 50 years ago.”
Johnson’s body was found floating in the Hudson river in 1992 and the case was initially closed as a suicide by the police. Friends and family had for years claimed the death was suspicious. In 2002, the police reclassified the cases as “undetermined” and in 2012 reopened the investigations as a “possible homicide.”
The waterfront park in Brooklyn is spread over seven acres and State Parks has set up two public art installations at the entrances designed to reflect Johnson’s style – she was known for adorning herself with a crown made of fresh flowers. Other plans for the park include an education centre, signages, another Marsha P Johnson art installation, an outdoor gallery commemorating the LGBTQI rights movement and other infrastructure upgrades.
Today, Marsha P. Johnson — a heroic transgender advocate — would have turned 75 years old.
Congratulations to New York for taking this important step — dedicating a state park to her & affirming the critical role she played for our community. https://t.co/qt06EF54yT
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) August 24, 2020
The upgrades on the park are part funded by grants from New York Assembly Member Joseph Lentol.
“Marsha P. Johnson was a pioneer for the LGBTQ community and her story must never be forgotten. From the Stonewall Uprising and beyond, her activism helped to pave the way for equal rights for the LGBTQ community. Renaming the East River State Park in her name will honor her legacy and tell her story for generations to come,” said Lentol.
Today I was proud to attend the naming of Marsha P. Johnson State Park on what would have been her 75th birthday. Marsha was a relentless fighter for LGBTQ equality – her legacy is inspiring to us all and we are forever indebted for her advocacy. pic.twitter.com/IIbydcloeg
— Joe Lentol (@assemblymanjoe) August 24, 2020