Metro Weekly

Marsha P. Johnson’s New Jersey hometown to erect monument honoring her legacy

City of Elizabeth will consult community members and LGBTQ advocates in honoring legendary trans activist

marsha p johnson, river trail, monument

The Elizabeth River Trail, near Elizabeth City Hall, where Johnson’s monument will be erected. – Photo: City of Elizabeth, via Facebook

Legendary transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson, a central figure in the modern-day LGBTQ rights movement, will be honored by a monument in her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey.

According to a news release from Union County, the monument will be erected on the city’s Freedom trail, near Elizabeth City Hall, and will become the first public monument in the state to honor an LGBTQ person and transgender woman of color.

Local officials, in consultation with Johnson’s family and LGBTQ advocates. plan to hold several community events during LGBTQ History Month, in October, to seek public input on the planning and design of the monument and the area surrounding it.

“The dedication today recognizes Elizabeth native Marsha P. Johnson as a leader for the rights of transgender people throughout the country,” a spokesperson for Mayor Chris Bollwage’s office told CNN.

Johnson was one of the activists on the frontlines of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, considered the seminal moment in the modern-day LGBTQ rights movement, and dedicated much of her life to advocating for LGBTQ rights and people living with HIV/AIDS.

She was recently honored in New York after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the East River State Park in Brooklyn would be dedicated in memory of Johnson, with the state pledging to install several large-scale public art installations honoring her contributions to history.

Johnson’s nephew, Al Michaels, says the monument in Elizabeth comes at a key time in the country’s history, when both LGBTQ rights and police brutality against people of color — two issues important to his aunt — are once again attracting national headlines.

“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.”

Michaels added: “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.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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