When the transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson was alive, there were no murals created in her honor; there were no institutes in her name; and there were certainly no monuments recognizing her activism. In fact, according to historians, Johnson — now recognized as one of the most influential forces of the modern LGBTQ rights movement — was told to march in the back of New York City’s first gay pride march in 1970. But while Johnson, who was found dead in 1992 under suspicious circumstances, was never celebrated during her lifetime, she has transcended to icon status in death.
Last year, New York City officials announced Johnson and her fellow trans activist Sylvia Rivera would be honored with a public monument in the city’s Greenwich Village neighborhood; earlier this week, Google dedicated its Google Doodle to Johnson; and now, more than 75,000 people have signed on to a petition to have a statue of Johnson erected in her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, in place of its existing Christopher Columbus monument.
“We should commemorate Marsha P. Johnson for the incredible things she did in her lifetime and for the inspiration she is to members of the LGBT+ community worldwide, especially black trans women,” the petition states.