Nearly 30 years after her death, Marsha P. Johnson is getting new life as the namesake of a New York City park. At a Human Rights Campaign gala on February 1, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared that Brooklyn’s East River State Park will be renamed to honor the transgender activist.
Cuomo made the announcement while asserting that New York was “fighting back” against hatred toward marginalized communities, per NBC News.
“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,” he said.
The governor called Johnson an “icon of the community,” noting that the park — an 11-acre green space in Williamsburg with unobstructed views of midtown Manhattan — would be the first in New York to be named after an openly LGBTQ individual.
Johnson, dubbed the “Mayor of Christopher Street,” during her lifetime, was a drag queen and a prominent figure in the 1969 Stonewall uprising of LGBTQ folks against NYPD officers, which spurred the gay liberation movement. She’s also considered to be a pioneer of the transgender equality movement. Johnson died at age 46 in 1992.
Additionally, New York City officials announced last year that Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, with whom she founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries group, will be honored with a permanent monument in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. “The LGBTQ+ movement was portrayed very much as a white, gay male movement,” First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray told The New York Times in May. “This monument counters that trend of whitewashing the history.”