New York Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered a big present to the LGBTQ+ community yesterday with the dedication of Marsha P. Johnson State Park on what would have been the late trans activist's 75th birthday.
"Today, Marsha P. Johnson State Park becomes the first State Park to honor an LGBTQ person," Cuomo announced in a tweet yesterday. "NY is indebted to her for her brave advocacy and relentless fight for LGBTQ equality."
\u201cI'm proud to announce the dedication of East River State Park in Brooklyn to #MarshaPJohnson.\n\nToday, Marsha P. Johnson State Park becomes the first State Park to honor an LGBTQ person.\n\nNY is indebted to her for her brave advocacy and relentless fight for LGBTQ equality.\u201d
— Archive: Governor Andrew Cuomo (@Archive: Governor Andrew Cuomo)
The significance of the renaming was not lost on officials who heralded the important contributions Johnson made to the movement during her life.
"Today, we dedicate the first State Park in New York in recognition of an LGBTQ hero - Marsha P. Johnson," Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement, noting that the LGBTQ+ movement began with Johnson and Stonewall. "The Marsha P. Johnson State Park honors the transgender woman of color, who led the fight for equal rights and justice for all."
While the park was officially dedicated in Johnson's honor yesterday, the park's name was changed earlier this year in February. The 7-acre waterfront park overlooking the East River in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn was formerly know as East River State Park. Extensive plans are underway for improvements to basic infrastructure such as restrooms and replacing crumbling sections of cement. Also included are new designs to highlight the contributions of Johnson to the movement, as well as providing a place for displays of public art and festivals. Plans currently call for a new education center, the addition of two long parallel walls for artwork and interpretive elements celebrating Johnson's life, and decorative embellishments to current facilities.
Johnson laid the groundwork for LGBTQ+ organizing and activism co-founding organizations like Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. Last year, it was announced Johnson and fellow activist Sylvia Rivera were to be amongst the first trans women to receive permanent monuments in the world. The installation is planned to be placed down the street from Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, where the pair frequented. Both were present and active at the Stonewall Riots in 1969, and continued their work with Rivera working with Transy House, a shelter for transgender people in Brooklyn.