Laverne Cox was one of three grand marshals at this year’s Pride parade in New York City along with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Rea Carey and "Frozen" star Jonathan Goff. Cox made her ride through Manhattan’s West Village memorable by sharing it with with the Dolores Nettles, mother of Islan Nettles, the 21-year-old transgender woman who was beaten to death in Harlem last year. The elder Nettles rode next to Cox and waved to the crowd while holding a photo of her daughter.
Cox’s celebrity has skyrocketed since the debut of the Netflix series "Orange is the New Black," and she’s long used her high profile to bring attention to Nettles’ case. Nettles, a fashion student, was viciously beaten while walking with friends in her Harlem neighborhood on August 17, 2013. She died days later at Harlem Hospital. Her murder remains unsolved.
While Pride parades in the United States have become billion-dollar affairs, transgender people of color still face deadly realities. As Tim Murphy wrote at Out.com about Nettles’ death:
According to a report last year from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, which tracks and fights attacks on LGBTQ people, half of all fatal hate crimes committed in the United States in 2012 against LGBTQ people were against transgender women, and 73% of all homicides were of people of color. The same report found that transgender women of color were dramatically more likely to experience police violence or discrimination. According to the group Transgender Day of Remembrance, there have been 85 murders of transgender people in the United States between 2008 and 2013. And those are just the reported cases.