As conversations regarding the cultural divide in our country continue, one of the most polarizing conversations is the removal of monuments and what they mean to many groups. For the LGBTQ community, there are a litany of figures that are pivotal to our history, and one of them is now getting some much deserved homage; trailblazing trans activist & civil right pioneer Marsha P Johnson is receiving a statute in her hometown of Elizabeth, N.J. The County of Union on Thursday announced with Johnson’s family a monument is going to be built in her honor on the Freedom Trail near Elizabeth City Hall. In October, the Union County Office of LGBTQ Affairs will be inviting the public to participate in the planning of the project, in partnership with both Johnson’s family and local elected leaders.
An online petition has been circulating remove the Christopher Columbus statue in Elizabeth, New Jersey’s historically Italian section & replace it with a statue to Johnson. Al Michaels, Johnson’s nephew told NJ Advance Media that while the family did select the location for the statue, they do not want the statue of Columbus removed, as it is part of the Italian community in the Peterstown section of Elizabeth. As the Elizabeth born and raised Michaels says, “If you put a statue of a trans woman, the same treatment that they’re giving the Christopher Columbus statue, that’s what they’re going to do there.”
Marsha P. Johnson was born in Elizabeth, N.J. and graduated from Thomas A. Edison High school, living in the Uptown section of Elizabeth on Washington Ave. Johnson made Greenwich Village her home shortly thereafter, and Johnson (along with her sister in advocacy and protesting Sylvia Rivera) was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, and served as a co-founded for the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. Johnson modeled for Andy Warhol and was known as the unofficial “Mayor of Christopher Street”. Johnson’s life and untimely death were documented in the brilliant 2017 Netflix documentary The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson.
To follow The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, follow its website